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A message from the Superintendent about students, school safety

A message from the Superintendent about students, school safety
Posted on 03/15/2018

San Diego Unified School District

Dear San Diego Unified Families: A message regarding our students and school safety

This week, millions of American students took part in peaceful demonstrations against school shootings. I attended one of these demonstrations organized by our high school students. It was truly inspirational to see the thoughtful way our students handled themselves as they confronted this difficult issue. The activities reminded me again how important it is that we provide our young people with a strong education in civics, an obligation San Diego Unified has always embraced.

As our young people reminded us this week, we all have a role to play in preventing mass tragedies on campus. For that reason, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the ways your local public school is working to keep your students safe. Nothing matters more to us than the safety and well-being of every student within our San Diego Unified family.

Following the incident in Parkland, Florida last month, we reviewed the policies we have in place to protect children from threats on campus. We proposed several significant changes that were adopted by the Board of Education at its meeting this week. These changes include fast-tracking several security upgrades at school sites. They also include a move to an “options-based” model of handling actual threats. A full copy of the presentation presented to the Board is available on our website, and I encourage you to review that document.

Thanks to more than $40 million in school safety upgrades since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012, all of our schools now have comprehensive school safety plans. These plans cover perimeter fencing, locks and gates, notification systems, public address systems, and more than 1,300 security cameras across the district. Another $15 million in upgrades was approved at the Board meeting this week and scheduled for expedited implementation.

Much of our work throughout the year goes to improving the climate at schools. This work helps prevent emotionally vulnerable students from becoming disconnected from their peers, and it improves the quality of life on campus for all our students. Some of the measures we take to improve student climate include working with staff to identify students at risk of becoming violence victims or instigators, making it easier to report and confront bullying, and focusing on school discipline reforms that produce better outcomes.

In the weeks since the tragedy in Florida, many parents have reached out to me directly to suggest improvements to our safety procedures and operations. I am grateful for everyone's input, because safety really is everyone's responsibility. If you have ideas on how your school site can be made more secure, I encourage you to share those directly with your school principal. Our principals have been intensely focused on establishing a safe climate for every student we serve, and we are grateful for their leadership.

We were impressed this week with the determination our students showed in refusing to allow mass school violence to become accepted as the “new normal.” We share their determination and we are inspired by their example. Together, we will create school environments that are safe and worthy of the incredible students we serve.


Cindy Marten
[email protected]