Students in the South Bay’s largest school district were set to return to school Thursday, but several gun-related incidents on different campuses last spring have many families feeling anxious.
Many parents are asking San Jose Unified School District for a more proactive approach to school safety, asking the district not to wait until there’s a tragedy to force change.
On May 17, just weeks before the end of the school year, a Willow Glen High School student brought a loaded ghost gun and pocket knife to campus, forcing a lockdown. He was tackled and taken into custody by a school resource officer before anyone was injured.
Two days before that, a Lincoln High School student was arrested for threatening on social media that he would shoot classmates with an assault rifle.
And three weeks before that, a Hoover Middle School student was taken into custody for taking a loaded firearm to school.
Parents at that time called on San Jose Unified for more transparency, better communication and a more proactive approach to school safety for its 26,000 students as well as teachers and staff.
Not seeing much action, dozens of parents created the Why Wait project. One of the founders grew up in Littleton, Colorado, site of the Columbine High School massacre.
Trudi McCanna spoke with NBC Bay Area while she attended a National Center for School Safety conference.
“There are a lot of great things and a lot of best practices that are evidence-based and have been proven to work in a lot of communities around the United States,” McCanna said. “And where we find those things are in communities where there have been tragedies and shootings because it’s at that point that the community kind of wakes up and realizes where the gaps are and says we have to close these gaps.”
A San Jose Unified spokesperson told NBC Bay Area the district provides a 20-page safety plan template to schools to customize for their campuses. It’s up to the school site councils, made up of an administrator and elected staff, parents and students, to approve them.
In a statement, the spokesperson said, “We have seen an increase in safety risks locally and nationally since the pandemic, and we have seen that increase reflected in our schools. … As we start the school year, staff will review positive behavior expectations with students. … Staff and students will also review the emergency protocols and appropriate responses at their school.”
The district’s first board meeting of the year is scheduled for Thursday, and parents pushing for greater safety are expected to be there. Next week, an advisory committee will discuss the use of police resource officers.
Source: NBC Bay Area