SELMA – In light of the February school shooting in Florida and flurry of local copycat threats, Selma School District administrators say principals will be having drills and reviewing campus safety procedures to remind students and staff of what to do in case an intruder is on campus.
“The safety of our students and our staff continues to be a district and a board priority,” Superintendent Tanya Fisher said at the Feb. 27 Selma Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting.
All schools have safety plans that are updated and approved by the board annually by March 1. Fisher said theirs were approved ahead of time in January. While the emergency procedures are to be posted in every classroom, she’s also calling on principals at each school to review them with staff and have drills again.
“We’ll be asking each principal to conduct a site inspection to make sure the guidelines are posted in the classroom as well as in common areas like the staff rooms and lunch rooms or the school office so everyone has access and understands the guidelines,” she said. “Administrators will be directed to facilitate a mid-year review of the emergency procedures with both the certificated and classified staff. We’ll be asking administrators to engage in student drills at each level, not just a review but to actually go through the drills.”
Fisher said principals would then report when their drills took place to ensure each campus is prepared. She’s also been in discussions with union leaders with both the certificated and classified staff as to how prepared they feel regarding emergencies, and said more training will take place during back-to-school events.
At the Fresno County level, Fisher reported that County Office of Education Superintendent Jim Yovino would be hosting a meeting March 16 regarding campus safety in conjunction with several law enforcement agencies.
“He’s really providing support to the superintendents. They’ll be addressing specifically school crisis management, district crisis management and active shooter on campus,” Fisher said.
Fisher said that school safety isn’t just a matter of intruders on campus but includes addressing bullying, providing mental health services, counseling and updating visitor policies. She added that ensuring campus security included having a visible, trained security staff on site.
“Contributing to those multiple perspectives is maintaining a proactive, visible and well-trained school resource and campus security officer team. [Pupil Services Coordinator] Wayne Dixon meets with those folks, as well as the Selma Police Department, to make sure that there’s training and good communication between our resource officers and our security officers.”
Board President Jennifer Winter inquired as to whether the district’s resource officers have had training specifically designed for campus security issues.
Dixon said the district’s campus security officers have attended a 24-hour course that’s outlined by the state while school resource officers are trained through the Selma Police Department.
“A lot of it is building relationships with the kids and being out there,” Dixon said. “We’re out there patrolling and making sure we’re visible so the staff feels safer, the students safer and the parents feel safer.”
Dixon said school administrators will get additional training so they can recognize when students are under the influence or what procedures to follow “when our kids have gotten a hold of something they shouldn’t have gotten ahold of. That is one of my personal concerns is that we’re going to start seeing some overdoses.”
Schools have been alert when students have posted threats on social media about bringing weapons to school. Locally, Selma’s Police Department reported receiving calls and messages about a threat on Feb. 21 and increased patrols around the campus the next day.
“At this point, no credible threat has been discovered, and it appears the postings may have originated from outside of the State,” the department posted on its Facebook page. “The safety of the students and faculty is of the utmost importance, and both the school district and police department urge anyone to report any suspicious activity immediately.”
Fisher said students, staff and community members have to be more vigilant than in the past and be willing to speak up if they see suspicious activity.
“As things change, we have to change. We have to keep up with what’s happening. We are taking things seriously and being proactive as we work with all the districts in the county to make sure our campuses are safe.”