School safety ideas surface at San Luis Coastal forum

Strengthening protocols for visitors at schools, asking law enforcement to do safety assessments of campuses and finding a way to quickly lock classroom doors from the inside are just a few of the ideas discussed at a forum on school safety held by the San Luis Coastal school board Tuesday night. 

The district will evaluate its comprehensive safety plan this summer and create a districtwide template for schools to use when creating their own campus plans. 

School safety has come to the forefront of discussion at schools throughout San Luis Obispo County as parents and administrators struggle with safety concerns following the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. 

San Luis Coastal principals, district administrators and other faculty discussed existing safety measures and plans for larger disasters such as a mass evacuation should a crisis occur at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

“Given the nature of what has happened, it is good for us to roll up our sleeves and examine our policies,” Superintendent Eric Prater said. 

The trustees raised concerns about open access to campuses, improving communication between the school district and law enforcement, and making sure that electronic maps of all the campuses were accessible. 

Los Osos Middle School Principal Kyle Pruitt said having processes in place to deal with daily safety risks is equally important. 

Recently, a student at the middle school was found to have written in a notebook and drawn violent pictures that concerned staff.

A threat assessment team — composed of school psychologists — was called to the school to evaluate the student. 

“It is extremely effective and thorough and gives me more confidence that the right people are looking at the issue,” Pruitt said.

He said the campus also uses a software program to screen the IDs of all visitors to make sure they are not registered sex offenders.