The first of several workshops hosted by Santa Barbara Unified School District took place Wednesday evening at La Colina Junior High as the district’s newly assembled Task Force on School Climate & Safety brought concerned parents together with experts on school safety.
Over the next six to eight months, according to Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, the workshops will focus on five realms: school safety; public safety and law enforcement; mental health and wellness; technology and social media; and anti-bias education. “There is no one answer to school safety,” he said. “We need to look at all five [realms].”
After the district cycles through the workshops, Matsuoka explained, it will present its findings and potential policy recommendations to the Board of Education in December. However, he added, “If we see something we think we should implement next month or next week, we’ll do that.”
The task force was formed in the wake of a January incident — during which a small group of first-year boys threatened fellow female students online — that still haunts San Marcos High School, and has landed one of the boys in juvenile court.
Wednesday night’s workshop, held in partnership with the Santa Barbara Parents for High School Safety — a 100-member parent group, also formed in the wake of the January cyber threat — focused on the realm of school safety. Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Frann Wageneck opened the topic with the announcement that the district is very close to filling its newly created school safety coordinator position. Districtwide, that person will manage school safety, from chemical spills to fire drills, and make sure that all the schools perform uniformly so that students don’t need to relearn safety procedures as they move through grade levels. The district will also develop continuity with Goleta Union School District, she added.
Feedback from Wednesday night’s workshop will be distilled by the task force and made available on the district website.