As your Superintendent, there is nothing more important to me than keeping our students and staff safe from harm. Last Friday morning we had an unhoused individual wander onto our school campuses to use the restroom. Our staff is trained to identify individuals on campus that do not belong, and the matter was resolved quickly. This incident serves as a reminder that we must always remain vigilant and look for ways that we can improve our campus security whenever and wherever possible. Prior to this incident, I met with the San Marino Chiefs of Police and Fire, a San Marino Police Commander, and members of the Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC) to conduct a facilities vulnerability assessment, which will take place in October and November. From this assessment will come recommendations from experts on ways that we can enhance campus safety and security. Once we receive the recommendations from JRIC, we will begin to work on all four schools.
In the meantime, I have asked our Chief Business Official and Director of Maintenance and Operations to obtain quotes for secure and permanent fencing around the Huntington Middle School Campus and in between the Valentine and Huntington Middle School Campus on the west side. Fencing, while not foolproof, will detour those who do not belong on the campuses from walking onto school grounds and from being able to easily move between the Valentine and Huntington Middle School Campuses. We will also invest in the improvement of security cameras at all four schools with enhanced technologies.
The relationship between the School District and the City Police and Fire Departments has never been stronger. We are resolute in our endeavor to continue to evaluate and improve our safety practices and ensure that all employees receive proper training. On August 8, 2022, the District provided all employees with a full-day threat assessment and active shooter awareness training led by a Harvard-trained forensic psychologist/school violence prevention expert and an active member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Additionally, the District has and will continue to provide Run, Hide, Fight training and ALICE training to our teachers. Moreover, we have a District-wide multi-disciplinary threat assessment team that includes counselors, psychologists, administrators, law enforcement, legal and safety experts. We also have highly trained crisis intervention teams at each school. This aids in our endeavor to be proactive in the prevention of school violence.
We are fortunate that in San Marino, we have a two-to-three-minute response time for police and fire to arrive on any one of our campuses. Nonetheless, I want every employee to know what to do in the event of an emergency so that we are prepared to do our part in helping to contain the situation before outside help arrives. The Police and Fire Chiefs will continue to participate in the development of our school site safety plans as they are an integral part of our safety team. California’s Homeland Security Advisor & State Superintendent of Public Instruction provided a joint message in late May advising schools to continue communication, coordination, and review emergency procedures and facilitate exercises.
Please know that as your Superintendent, safety is and will always be my top priority, and I will continue to work hard with my team to make sure that SMUSD remains a safe place for students to learn and staff to work. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at 626-299-7000 ext. 1310.
Linda de la Torre, Ed.D.