Our Irvine community appears to be responding quietly but constructively to the grim reality of American life in 2018: Incidents of gun violence — including mass-casualty shootings in our schools — are now an ever-present threat.
In March, at an open public meeting, the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) Board received a comprehensive presentation describing what the School District and the City are doing to prevent or otherwise cope with emergencies in our schools, most notably gun violence. Of course, the Valentine’s Day mass-casualty high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and the remarkable student-organized March for Our Lives, remain fresh in our minds.
As I watched the IUSD presentation on TV (Channel 39), I was impressed with the comprehensive and detailed nature of the report. I was encouraged, too, with the quality and focus of Board member comments. No time was wasted on self-congratulatory statements. Instead, there appeared to be a sober recognition that we need to focus on specific ways to improve public safety in our schools.
So, what’s being done? IUSD is apparently moving forward with specific protective policies: improved doors and other barriers against armed intruders, real-time video surveillance, and instituting improved lockdown procedures, drills and training.
Regarding the sensitive and controversial topic of armed personnel in our schools, this issue was largely addressed in Irvine long ago, when the City wisely decided to develop and fund the School Resource Officer (SRO) program — putting specially-trained Irvine police officers as a permanent presence in many Irvine schools. This local SRO initiative, combined with the state’s Gun-Free Zone law, means we have a strong and sensible policy in place. Now, we need to tell people about it, and build on that policy!
Signs of the Times. We need a Declaration of Existing Policy! The signage (l) posted at the entrances to all Irvine schools seems quaintly appropriate for the 1960s or 1980s, but not for today. While prohibiting profanity, skateboarding, and tobacco products, there is NO mention of guns!
Now, in 2018, we renew our proposal that an additional sign (r) be posted at all Irvine schools — providing a clear, proactive statement of existing State and local policy to protect teachers, students, staff and visitors from gun violence.
City Council and School Board officials: Are you listening? Will you finally get busy and post our existing State and local policy?
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