California School News — March 2018
Change Language:
Safety & Leadership

State auditor stresses importance of school safety plans

On Nov. 14, 2017, a school secretary heard gunshots from her office and quickly ordered a school lockdown. School staff at Rancho Tehama Elementary School, located 130 miles north of Sacramento, collected students from the playground, barricaded the school and sheltered in place as a gunman rammed through the front gates of the school. He exited his pickup truck armed with a semi-automatic rifle and, finding himself locked out of the school, fired instead at the walls and windows before he reportedly became frustrated and left. Two students were injured, one from a bullet that penetrated the wall. But the quick thinking and preparedness of the school staff prevented even more casualties and lives lost at the elementary school campus of about 100 students.

Such campus readiness is now an important part of school safety training as the number of school shootings has risen in the past six years. Although California ranks high for gun safety nationally, schools are especially vulnerable, a recent audit determined. A 2017 report by the Bureau of State Audits, “School Violence Prevention: School Districts, County Offices of Education, and the State Must Do More to Ensure That School Safety Plans Help Protect Students and Staff During Emergencies,” found that many schools do not have a plan for an active shooter on campus and are unprepared for gun violence. Mandatory school safety plans also do not require schools have active shooter drills or procedures.

The Bureau of State Audits findings include:

» Some school districts and county offices are not adequately ensuring that schools are able to respond to emergencies.

» The California Department of Education and Department of Justice have not provided adequate safety plan training and guidance to districts and COEs.

» The CDE does not monitor that local educational agency safety plans are properly approved by school systems; such systems could benefit from emergency preparedness.

School shooter incidents, while considered rare, are also becoming more frequent, as the shooting at a Florida high school on Feb. 14 and other recent events make clear. The State Auditor report stated that nationally, “K–12 schools and institutes of higher education are the second most common location for active shooting incidents.”

Given this reality, the Bureau of State Audits recommended several best practices for local educational agencies. In particular, the report cited the Rocklin Unified School District and the Placer County Office of Education as examples to follow. Rocklin USD distributes a safety plan template to its schools that can be modified as needed. It also tracks school safety plans to ensure they are submitted and approved by the March 1 deadline. The Placer COE requires its districts to certify that they have reviewed and approved all of their schools’ safety plans each year.

Schools are also encouraged to:

» Develop lockdown procedures in safety plans and related shelterin- place drills;

» Develop lockout procedures to lock all campus perimeter doors, windows and gates; and

» Coordinate in advance with local law enforcement officials to develop tactical response plans.

In the meantime, a national conversation continues on the place of guns in society. As a part of this conversation, high school students across the country have planned several rallies this spring to make their voices heard. These events include a nationwide walkout by teachers and students on March 14. The Network for Public Education, an advocacy organization for public schools, has also scheduled a day of walkouts and other events on school campuses on April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Visit for links to the full report as well as resources to help districts prepare for school emergencies.

CSBA honors outstanding legislators

For the past 30 years, CSBA has honored current members of the California Senate and Assembly, as well as members of Congress, who actively work to improve our public schools, support local school board governance and exercise leadership in the legislative arena. The 2017 Outstanding Legislator Awards honored three fierce advocates for public education: Assemblymember Catharine Baker (R-Dublin), Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside). Senator Steve Glazer was given a Special Recognition award.

All four awardees supported CSBA’s 2017 sponsored legislation, voting in favor of Senate Bill 751, which amends the school district reserve cap; SB 527 (Galgiani, D-Stockton), which sought to strengthen state funding for home-to-school transportation; and Assembly Bill 1354 (Kiley, R-Roseville), which amends the California Education Code to eliminate obsolete and unnecessary programs. “We are extremely thrilled to present our 2017 Legislative Awards to Assemblymember Catharine Baker and to Senators Richard Roth, Jerry Hill and Steve Glazer,” said Dennis Meyers, CSBA assistant executive director of Governmental Relations. “All four are veteran leaders in the Legislature and have shown tremendous commitment to public education by working closely with local governance teams in their districts on tough issues — including the three-year issue of the school district reserve cap.”

Baker represents California’s 16th Assembly District, which stretches from Walnut Creek south to Dublin in the Bay Area, and joined the Assembly in 2014. Since that time, education has been a key legislative focus for her, as evidenced by the passage of her legislation, Assembly Bill 1058, which helps train school personnel on recognizing and preventing child abuse. Baker also emerged as a leading advocate in the effort to address the school district reserve cap by authoring AB 1048 in 2015, a bill which would have repealed the reserve cap outright.

Senator Hill represents Senate District 13, which encompasses the San Francisco Peninsula and portions of Silicon Valley. Along with Senator Glazer, Hill authored SB 751, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October. Throughout his tenure in the Legislature, Senator Hill has consistently cast votes in favor of bills which strengthen public school budgets and allow school districts and county offices of education to update and expand their curriculum to best fit the evolving needs of California’s students.

Senator Roth’s wide-ranging education advocacy efforts in Riverside County also earned him an Outstanding Legislator Award. Among his achievements, Roth secured funding to address teacher recruitment, provided access to fulltime preschool for 3,000 low-income children and authored a bill to align workforce needs with community college training. Senator Roth consistently engaged with local school boards and administrators regarding the local impact of pending legislation.

Senator Glazer, who represents most of Contra Costa County, received a Special Recognition Award for his efforts, along with Senator Hill, to pass SB 751 and amend the reserve cap law. Prior to the passage of SB 751, the reserve cap posed significant financial challenges for California’s schools and threatened the fiscal solvency of every single school district in the state.