Turlock Unified School District is currently working with an outside firm to review and update its district-wide emergency operations plan. After an incident involving a stabbing between two students, which Superintendent Dana Trevethan called “the recent unprecedented violence at Turlock High School,” TUSD wants the community to know they have protocols in place to keep students safe and are constantly reviewing to make sure they are effective.
Some of the safety measures that have already been instituted since the passage of bond Measures N and O include adding perimeter fences to control entry onto campuses; visitors must pass through the front office of each campus, and be approved before entering a campus. They have also installed security cameras to investigate and understand when issues develop.
Through a Site Safety Council, all school sites are required to develop a Site Safety Plan and a Comprehensive Safety Plan every year. The Site Safety Plan is specifically for emergency preparedness, and this year’s plans have already been submitted to local police and fire departments for their review and comment.
“The Comprehensive Safety Plan, as its name implies, is broader in scope and covers a wider range of concerns that include social, emotional concerns, as well as the physical safety of students and adults,” said TUSD communications coordinator Marie Russell.
TUSD currently has two school resource officers, one at Turlock High and one Pitman High. The SRO at Turlock High was able to apprehend the responsible party in the stabbing incident and correspond with police dispatch to ensure appropriate resources, including medical staff, were made available to Turlock High.
Some parents have questioned why there are not metal detectors at the schools, and TUSD believes while they might have some benefits, they present challenges as well.
“We are constantly evaluating and reviewing the physical security posture on our campuses including the effectiveness of additional measures such as secured lobbies, metal detectors, etc. Although metal detectors can be effective in some situations, they also bring their own challenges including the long lines to get on campus which can, in themselves, present a dangerous scenario,” said Russell.
The district also wants all students to be comfortable sharing concerns with a teacher or staff member to prevent violent incidents from occurring.
“At the end of the day, the most effective mitigation against events like this is trusting relationships where all are comfortable to share concerns with an adult on campus by following our TUSD protocol—See or Hear Something, Say Something,” said Russell.