“Students are the Greatest Resource for Keeping Schools Safe” says Superintendent Prater

Students working hard in history class. School safety changes will require that all students remain alert throughout the school day.

  On August 30, The Spyglass interviewed San Luis Coastal Unified School District (SLCUSD) Superintendent Dr. Prater about new developments regarding school safety in our district. School safety has become a priority of schools nationwide in light of the many recent school shootings. Dr. Prater described San Luis Coastal’s new approach to increasing safety on campus as a “multi-tiered response plan”, highlighting the importance of students and staff working together to foster a safe school community.

  The response plan aims to promote security on campus physically by limiting entry points, and implementing as many improvements as possible from Measure D funds. Some of the developments include the construction of safer buildings and fencing. Along with security improvements, Prater outlined another tier of the response plan: creating a healthy school environment. This includes fostering relationships among students and staff to encourage effective communication and accessible avenues to get help. A specific way the district is encouraging communication and access to resources is through the “report a concern/bullying” tab that is now located on all district websites: http://www.slcusd.org/report-concern.php. This tool enables students, staff, and parents alike to directly report any safety concern they might have to the district office. The report goes directly to the district administration, where it is documented and sent out to the location of concern to develop a plan for response.

  Dr. Prater gave some examples of how the plan has already been successfully implemented this year. Within the past few weeks a mother of a student used the online tool to notify the district of issues her child encountered on the school bus. Administrators then contacted the bus driver and the instigating students were moved to the front of the bus to be supervised by the bus driver. Prater says “if the last week is any indication, I can tell you this tool is going to better communication, be more transparent, and more responsive.”

  In addition, the district is working with local emergency services along with the city and county themselves to establish a safety network. The police currently have access to all of our entry points, maps, and contact information. Furthermore, Prater says the district also has contracted services with “County Mental Health, the Women’s Shelter, and marriage family therapists” locally, that work “directly with students and families to provide the support they may need.” Morro Bay High School (MBHS) has a “flexible response plan” according to Dr. Pruitt.

Our administration is continually working with the construction companies to create the safest escape routes based on campus changes. Regarding intruder response, MBHS currently employs the “run, hide, fight” strategy, depending on the location of your classroom in relation to the intruder. The Campus is split into 3 zones, and the strategy of each specific class is largely determined by the situation, and if the teacher sees fit a run, hide and/or fight response.

  Dr. Pruitt also emphasized the importance of student reporting as a way for students to keep the campus safe. “Keep your eyes open and don’t hesitate to notify an adult of anything that seems out of place”.

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