July 27, 2021
Dear Superintendents,

Yesterday we shared with you the information below about the COPES initiative. If you would like to participate, please email Executive Director Mara Madrigal-Weiss at mmadrigal@sdcoe.net. The email provided earlier was incorrect.

The Creating Opportunities in Prevention and Eliminating Suicide (COPES) Initiative is a collaborative effort between the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) and the San Diego County Behavioral Health Department.
Your district is invited to participate in this countywide initiative projected to be funded this fall by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) of California.

The COPES initiative will be led by SDCOE and will create school communities that champion mental wellness by targeting efforts in:
  • Suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention
  • Stigma reduction
  • Professional development for educators, staff, students, and families
  • Identification or augmentation of services and resources as well as coordinated referral pathways
If you agree to participate, your district will receive funding to support these efforts for the next four years. Below is an outline of commitments expected with your participation.

Commitment to Participate
Identify a COPES liaison who will participate in professional development, workshops, and project meetings to build their capacity to become a subject matter expert in suicide prevention and mental health promotion; and work closely with the SDCOE leadership team and project evaluators throughout the grant; as well as:

  1. Agree to the dissemination of baseline and end-of-project California Healthy Kids Survey (both Core and Mental Health Supports Modules).
  2. Participate in a needs assessment and the development of a program plan to be implemented over the four years.
  3. Identify a core leadership team (when necessary) to participate in trainings related to districtwide suicide prevention and mental health promotion practices.
  4. Agree to use an evidence-based suicide risk assessment tool (e.g. Columbia Suicide Severity Rate Scale).
  5. Collect and report the number of suicide risk assessments completed in all schools each month, including the following data: grade, race, gender, severity level, and outcome.
  6. Enter into a sub-contract agreement with SDCOE.

The amount your district will receive each year is based on your district's pre-pandemic student enrollment as indicated in this table.

Please let us know if your district will be participating in the COPES initiative by Aug. 6, 2021 by emailing Executive Director Mara Madrigal-Weiss, who will be coordinating this effort.


Dr. Paul Gothold
San Diego County Superintendent of Schools
phone: 858-295-6641