The safety of students and staff remains the top priority for Santa Ana Unified School District. The District continuously reviews all safety, security, and wellness practices as threats continue to evolve. As part of these efforts, the District is hosting a series of Community Town Hall meetings to better engage and collaborate with our families and overall community.Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers gathered from our community. As we move forward and gather more input, we will continue adding questions and responses.
Frequently Asked Questions
SCHOOL POLICE AND SAFETY OFFICERS
What is the role of SAUSD School Police?
Provide general law enforcement services and emergency response to our campuses. Ensure the safe passage of our students to and from school. Maintain a safe environment for our students and staff. Conduct criminal investigations, provide community education.
What is the role of a District Safety Officer?
Provide a visible security deterrence, observe and report criminal activity & safety concerns, assist admin in the enforcement of school rules, enforce single point of entry. Respond to emergency situations on campus.
Do School Police patrol different areas throughout the day, or are officers assigned to specific campuses and locations?
Yes, Both. Patrol officers are assigned a patrol area of several schools and an SRO (school resource officer) is assigned to a high school campus.
Can the District hire more School Police and District Safety Officers?
We are in the process of filling a staffing shortage. However, we are capped at 33 sworn police officers.
Can the District have a District Safety Officer at every campus?
We are in the proposal and approval process of hiring an additional 12 DSOs to cover elementary school campuses.
What regular training do School Police and District Safety Officers receive to ensure they are prepared for different threats?
School Police Officers are required by the state of California to maintain annual proficiency in certain law enforcement skills. Police Officers also receive additional recurrent training in threat assessment, Active shooter response, de-escalation, mental illness, and some officers are cross-trained as EMT's. DSO's are required to maintain First Aid CPR and 8 hours of annual training set by the department. Topics include de-escalation, students in crisis, Disaster/Emergency response, and security practices.
Are exterior gates and school entry doors locked during school hours?
District policy is that exterior gates and school entry doors, except for the main entry door into the office lobby, are locked during school hours.
Does the district use a single-point-of-entry (SPOE) practice for all schools?
The district has a phased SPOE plan and is working towards completing SPOE projects at all campuses.
Do visitors to schools go through any screening before they're allowed in?
Visitors go through the Raptor system which provides school staff with a background check using a visitor’s driver’s license or ID.
Why are fencing standards different at many schools?
SAUSD has been in existence since 1888, and many fencing standards have been used during that time, the current minimum standard fencing is 6-foot high ornamental iron (wrought iron) fencing in front and 6-foot high 1-inch vinyl-coated chain link fencing on sides and rear of schools. Some areas will implement 8-foot high 1-inch vinyl-coated chain link fencing on sides and rear of schools. SAUSD is working to implement these standards.
What about having metal detectors and cameras in schools?
The District does not employ metal detectors.
Do all classrooms have locks or "lock blok" devices to keep intruders out?
Many classrooms have “lock blok” devices on classroom entry doors, and are replaced when vandalized/removed. Some classroom door hardware eliminates the need for these devices.
Some schools have open floor plans, with no separation between classrooms. How are those buildings kept secure?
The District goal is to eliminate our few open-concept schools. In fact, staff is adding doors to Roosevelt-Walker Academy this summer, with plans to continue these improvements in the future. Schools without interior doors continue utilizing their SPOE and maintain a secure perimeter.
WELLNESS AND MENTAL HEALTH
What are schools doing to prevent bullying in schools?
We are a third less than what the average California student faces based on state data.
The SAUSD Board of Education recognizes the harmful effects of bullying on student well-being, student learning and school attendance and desires to provide a safe school environment that protects students from physical and emotional harm.
Bullying is an aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power between individuals with the intent to cause emotional or physical harm. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social/relational and may involve a single severe act or repetition or potential repetition of a deliberate act. Bullying includes, but is not limited to, any act described in Education Code 48900(r).
Measures to Prevent Bullying
SAUSD implements measures to prevent bullying in district schools, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Ensuring that each school establishes clear rules for student conduct and implements strategies to promote a positive, collaborative school climate.
- Providing information to students, through student handbooks, district and school web sites and social media, and other age-appropriate means, about district and school rules related to bullying, mechanisms available for reporting incidents or threats, and the consequences for engaging in bullying.
- Encouraging students to notify school staff when they are being bullied or when they suspect that another student is being bullied, and providing means by which students may report threats or incidents confidentially and anonymously.
- Conducting an assessment of bullying incidents at each school and, if necessary, increasing supervision and security in areas where bullying most often occurs, such as playgrounds, hallways, restrooms, and cafeterias.
- Annually notifying district employees that, pursuant to Education Code 234.1, any school staff who witnesses an act of bullying against a student has a responsibility to immediately intervene to stop the incident when it is safe to do so.
Information and Resources
SAUSD posts on the district's web site (https://www.sausd.us/Page/133) information on bullying and harassment prevention which includes the following: (Education Code 234.6)
- The district's policy on student suicide prevention, including a reference to the policy's age appropriateness for students in grades K-6.
- The definition of sex discrimination and harassment as described in Education Code 230, including the rights set forth in Education Code 221.8.
- Title IX information included on the district's web site pursuant to Education Code 221.61, and a link to the Title IX information included on CDE's web site pursuant to Education Code 221.6.
- District policies on student sexual harassment, prevention and response to hate violence, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying, and cyberbullying.
- A section on social media bullying that includes all of the references described in Education Code 234.6 as possible forums for social media.
- A link to statewide resources, including community-based organizations, compiled by CDE pursuant to Education Code 234.5.
- Any additional information the Superintendent or designee deems important for preventing bullying and harassment.
As appropriate, the district shall provide students with instruction, in the classroom or other educational settings, that promotes social-emotional learning, effective communication and conflict resolution skills, character development, respect for cultural and individual differences, self-esteem development, assertiveness skills, and appropriate online behavior.
The district shall also educate students about the negative impact of bullying, discrimination, intimidation, and harassment based on actual or perceived immigration status, religious beliefs and customs, or any other individual bias or prejudice.
Students should be taught the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, how to advocate for themselves, how to help another student who is being bullied, and when to seek assistance from a trusted adult. As role models for students, staff shall be expected to demonstrate effective problem-solving and anger management skills.
To discourage cyberbullying, teachers may advise students to be cautious about sharing passwords, personal data, or private photos online and to consider the consequences of making negative comments about others online.
Reporting and Filing of Complaints
Any student, parent/guardian, or other individual who believes that a student has been subjected to bullying or who has witnessed bullying may report the incident to a teacher, the principal, a compliance officer, or any other available school employee.
When a report of bullying is submitted, the principal or a district compliance officer shall inform the student or parent/guardian of the right to file a formal written complaint in accordance with AR 1312.3 - Uniform Complaint Procedures. The student who is the alleged victim of the bullying shall be given an opportunity to describe the incident, identify witnesses who may have relevant information, and provide other evidence of bullying.
Within one business day of receiving such a report, a staff member shall notify the principal of the report, whether or not a uniform complaint is filed. In addition, any school employee who observes an incident of bullying involving a student shall, within one business day, report such observation to the principal or a district compliance officer, whether or not the alleged victim files a complaint.
Within two business days of receiving a report of bullying, the principal shall notify the district compliance officer identified in AR 1312.3.
When the circumstances involve cyberbullying, individuals with information about the activity shall be encouraged to save and print any electronic or digital messages that they feel constitute cyberbullying and to notify a teacher, the principal, or other employee so that the matter may be investigated. When a student uses a social networking site or service to bully or harass another student, the Superintendent or designee may file a request with the networking site or service to suspend the privileges of the student and to have the material removed.
Corrective actions for a student who commits an act of bullying of any type may include counseling, behavioral intervention and education, and, if the behavior is severe or pervasive as defined in Education Code 48900, may include suspension or expulsion in accordance with district policies and regulations.
When appropriate based on the severity or pervasiveness of the bullying, the Superintendent or designee shall notify the parents/guardians of victims and aggressors and may contact law enforcement.
The Superintendent, principal, or principal's designee may refer a victim, witness, perpetrator, or other student affected by an act of bullying to a school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, school nurse, or other school support service personnel for case management, counseling, and/or participation in a restorative justice program as appropriate. (Education Code 48900.9)
If any student involved in bullying exhibits warning signs of suicidal thought or intention or of intent to harm another person, the Superintendent or designee shall, as appropriate, implement district intervention protocols which may include, but are not limited to, referral to district or community mental health services, other health professionals, and/or law enforcement.
How are schools identifying and supporting students who feel depressed, or have other mental health issues that may cause them to harm themselves or others?
At the start of the school year, school counselors conduct classroom presentations to inform students about their role, and how they can access counseling services when they are struggling with mental health issues. In addition, at the secondary level school counselors will be delivering the Signs of Suicide Prevention lessons where students will learn about the signs of depression and suicide and how they can get help for themselves and their peers. Districtwide schools engage in the “We Care, Get Help” Campaign Week, which is a Suicide Prevention movement developed to send a message of hope and care, to increase students’ comfort in seeking assistance, and to increase awareness of suicide warning signs for students, staff, and families. School sites have counselors embedded on campus who are designated to provide first line counseling to students, identify needs and ensure referral to MH team if appropriate. Once a referral is received the School Mental Health Team will contact the parent/guardian and go out to the school site and meet with the student to initiate screening or assessment and determine level of care needed. This may result in enrollment in counseling services with the mental health team, referral to school based MH contract agency, referral to high level care supports in the community or targeted case management.
MH Helpline (started in March 2020 as a result of school closures due to the pandemic), allows students, families, staff in the district the availability to reach out directly to speak with a bilingual mental health provider to obtain immediate crisis support, counseling services/resources, and basic needs support.
-Suicide and safety protocols were modified for distance learning. Also provide ongoing trainings to support staff to help them implement the suicide protocols and to identify mental health warning signs.
-We have modified the referral process to eliminate barriers to accessing mental health supports and resources such as direct student and parent self-referrals.
-Providing ongoing crisis stabilization (via telehealth services) and post-psychiatric hospitalization support and follow-up.
-Expanding mental health collaborations with outside community mental health agencies and collaborating with hospitals to increase access to mental health resources and supports. We have expanded our mental health collaborative
- Hosting student support groups and parent workshops.
-Provide resources and counseling to families directly impacted by COVID in collaboration with school nurses and referring school staff.
-Teacher training on trauma, SEL and mental health
-Ongoing mental health PD and trainings on how to identify students in need of support and the appropriate referral processes: Suicidal ideation, threat assessment,
-24/7 live hotline support resources on website and posted for students and parents.
- All teachers and support staff were trained in the beginning of the year prior to start of school on SEL, mental health and trauma and protocols for suicidal ideation and threat assessment.
-WE CARE Campaign has held strong in our district. we continue to highlight mental health awareness month and held daily workshops during Suicide Prevention Month for students and parents.
Do we have enough counselors and other support staff to adequately support student mental health and wellness?
SAUSD invested in reducing the counselor to student ratio to 1:250. We have seen a big difference in the early identification of students in need and increased supports for students to address their mental health needs. We have a team of mental health clinician along with 40 +community partners who support our students and families. We have contracted directly with community partners and agencies who are designated to support our students mental health needs through a formal referral process in designated areas of expertise. These agencies provide mental health services directly to students on campus to ensure safety and promote social emotional health and wellness.
How does the District support students following a school crisis or other traumatic event?
SAUSD deploys a Crisis Response Network (CRN) team directly to the school or schools impacted by crisis lead directly by the Mental Health team. The Crisis Response Network is designed to ensure that students, parents, staff and the community impacted are provided adequate support, assessment, monitoring to decrease stress/trauma related to crisis. In addition, this CRN response is designed to provide immediate psychological first aid and resources to anyone impacted by the event.
See these links for more:
Will the District continue weekly COVID testing in schools for the upcoming school year?
The District is awaiting the guidance from the legislators and CDPH/OCHCA/CDE. SB 1479 , which would require Districts to have a testing plan, has passed in the Senate Health Committee and is now in the Education Committee. It is unclear at this time what the requirements will be.
How does the district ensure that any special needs students will be able to stay safe in the case of an emergency?
Students with medical needs should have care plans that include emergency management of their physical needs in the event of a disaster/crisis.