Dear Benicia Community:
The recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida has prompted our community to reflect once again on the safety of our students and staff while in school. Please know our highest priority is the safety of our students and staff. In the aftermath of the shooting, there have been two prominent topics of discussion. The first topic centers on the steps the District has taken to keep our students and staff safe in the event of a school shooting. The second topic includes the proposal forwarded by the national Woman’s March Youth Empower group, for student walkouts on March 14th in response to the tragedy.
In regards to school safety, each of our schools has a school safety committee. One of the roles of the committee is to review and document any potential safety risks and develop a school safety plan. The School Board reviews and approves these plans yearly. The plans include the response protocols and training for a variety of potential school crisis, including fire, earthquake, school shootings, and hazardous air contaminants. Schools conduct training and drills with staff and students.
The District has a long-standing and strong relationship with the Benicia Police Department. In addition to two School Resource Officers (one housed primarily at BHS, and the other at BMS and LHS – the officers also serve the elementary schools), the District and BPD meet to review and update our crisis response protocols, including campus walkthroughs, trainings, and drills. Following any incidents that may occur in our District or major national events, such as the Douglas High shooting, the Chief of Police, Superintendent and District Safety Committee meet to review protocols and make any changes to procedures based on lessons learned. We have formed a joint safety task force with members from the District, BPD, BFD, and City.
March 14th Event:
Women’s March Youth Empower is calling for students, teachers, and allies to take part in a walkout for 17 minutes at 10 am on March 14. Each minute is meant to represent one of the 17 victims who perished in this terrible tragedy. The District understands students wishing to voice their views about school violence. Our goal is to allow students who choose to express their views, to do so in a manner that is safe. Please watch for communication updates from your site principal regarding March 14th.
Thank you for your support and please feel free to reach out to me should you have thoughts or questions you would like to share. As I said in my newsletter on Friday, it is important, now more than ever, that we continue to pull together as a community to support one another as we provide safe learning environments for students, staff, and parents.
Charles F. Young