Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff and Community Members,
In the wake of the recent school tragedy in Florida, community concerns regarding student safety have intensified. In the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD), students, staff and administrators have been working together to not only express solidarity with students across the nation but also to understand what we are doing to promote the safety and well-being of our students. In addition, PVPUSD, the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department and the Lomita Sherriff’s Office have enjoyed a long, positive, and collaborative partnership over the past several decades. Keeping our schools safe continues to be the priority of all of these dedicated people.
Our schools were built when controlling campus access was not in the forefront of people’s minds as it is today. While the District has heard from multiple professionals that our ongoing preparation efforts are very good and ahead of many districts, more is coming. We would like to update you as to what we have been doing, what we are doing, and what we plan to do in the areas of our facilities, staff training, and education to support our commitment to the safety of our students.
What we have been doing
For the past several years we have had a regular program of safety training and facility enhancement, including:
- Each site has a comprehensive emergency response manual covering responses to different scenarios including on-site and offsite evacuation plans.
- Twice a year site safety training exercises are held for all students and staff.
- PTAs are maintaining emergency supplies at all sites.
- We have installed lock blocks on all doors to close and lock quickly in the event of an emergency, and we have issued shelter-in-place supplies for classrooms.
- We have installed window shades for windows on classroom doors.
- We have installed window film at multiple sites. Film combined with daylight hours, turning off lights and sheltering in place has been found to be very effective in a “Hide” or lockdown situation. Film installation at all sites will be completed shortly.
- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has adopted the “Run, Hide, Fight” protocol for active shooter situations. We have requested that all staff watch the appropriate “Run, Hide, Fight” video produced by the Santa Ana Unified School District for the grade level(s) of their students. This has increased awareness of surroundings and escape routes.
- We have increased the availability of counseling for student well-being throughout the District.
- The District meets with law enforcement, cities and other stakeholders on a regular basis to review safety, emergency plans and to debrief on any incidents
What we are doing Spring 2018
- Sites will use an Evacuation scenario for their Spring safety drills for students to practice elements of the “Run” component of “Run, Hide, Fight.”
- PVIS will host two active shooter training exercises for local law enforcement agencies (without students) during Spring break.
- During April 2018, a professional security firm will conduct perimeter assessments of our sites utilizing the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) framework. In addition to the status of the physical campuses, the report will include suggestions related to security processes and incident prevention. The report from this assessment is due in June, and it will help the Board make informed choices concerning methods to increase perimeter security.
- Pursuant to parent and school site requests we are reviewing our communication strategies to be sure we are trained for and are using the most effective channels to broadcast information as soon as good judgment dictates.
- We are holding trainings in March at both comprehensive high schools for certificated staff regarding Crisis Response techniques. Based upon the success of these trainings, they may also be held for all staff at intermediate, elementary and preschool sites in the Fall.
- We are developing a process to use for security enhancements at sites, whether Board directed or implemented through donations, to insure effective and equitable safety enhancements are available for all sites.
What we will be doing in the near future
- During our August Professional Development Day before school starts, all staff will be included in a full scale active shooter training in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies.
- Awareness training for staff will roll out to sites. This includes FBI-sponsored (and possibly led) trainings to identify individuals potentially at risk for violence.
- We will implement a student and parent education program regarding crisis situations geared to student grade levels.
- Based upon the results of CEPTD perimeter testing, we will be investigating the use of an entry system that scans the background of the individual requesting access to a campus.
- We will work on protocols to implement and maintain a District Emergency Operations Command to better respond to emergencies.
What can parents, families, and Palos Verdes citizens do to help? Some great tips were provided by the Manhattan Beach Unified School District that apply to students and communities across the nation:
- Please stay connected with your children and monitor their social media activities.
- Please reach out to the principal, the Police Department, or other trained professionals if you see behavior that has potential for causing self-harm or harm to others.
- Please ensure that if you own a firearm, it is locked up – it’s the law!
- Please cooperate with changes to campus entry and egress plans or any other safety measures that we put in place, and know that while they may cause inconvenience they will contribute to a safer environment for our students.
- Please take a moment to make sure that children understand that any school threat, regardless of the intention, may result in serious criminal and civil charges, and life-long consequences.
- If you hear or see something, say something! Please report safety concerns to your school or to the Police Department.
Further community updates will be published to the Palos Verdes community as information warrants. In the meantime, rest assured that the dedicated professionals in PVPUSD look forward to continuing to work with students, staff, law enforcement and the community to protect and teach your children.
Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District