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Grand Jury Releases Report Regarding School Safety In San Joaquin County

The Civil Grand Jury of San Joaquin County has released a new report emphasizing the need for enhanced student safety measures. This comprehensive 26-page document, issued on Monday, outlines 25 recommendations for each of the county's 14 school districts, as well as one suggestion for eight local law enforcement institutions.

These proposals for school districts vary from updating and obtaining greater input on state-required school site safety strategies to implementing more rigorous drills and frequent training programs. The exclusive recommendation provided to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, along with the Escalon, Lathrop, Lodi, Manteca, Ripon, Stockton, and Tracy Police Departments, involves "meaningful collaboration and approval" of updated safety plans concerning each school located within their jurisdiction.

Jurors identified the significance of fostering a school's culture as one of the most effective methods of preventing violence and preparing for emergencies. The report stated that "the focus on physical security measures has led to a neglect in considering human factors and fundamental aspects of school security and culture."

During their investigation, jurors examined one school site from each district. In addition to assessing these schools' safety plans and preparedness levels, the jurors scrutinized their culture and pride. According to the report, "promoting a school safety culture is achieved by involving parents/guardians, students, teachers, administrators, and other school staff in a school's safety planning process," as well as by nurturing an overall positive environment within the institution.

Among recurring issues discovered by jurors were inadequate attention to disabled students' needs during emergencies, generic safety plans not tailored to individual schools, insufficient training for those responsible for emergency incident command roles, inconsistency in emergency drills' scheduling, irregular visitor sign-in procedures, and lack of training for substitute teachers.

A 90-day deadline has been set for all investigated school districts and agencies to respond to the report. The grand jury provided varying deadlines for each recommendation.

The investigation commenced following numerous school shootings in the nation, the lethal campus stabbing of Alycia Reynaga at Stagg High School, and threats of violence aimed at county schools.

Four districts received commendations within the report. Lincoln Unified School District was praised for its exceptional visitor sign-in protocol using the Raptor system. Banta Unified School District was recognized for its superior physical barrier setup. New Hope Elementary School District was applauded for its innovative use of magnetic window covers displaying emergency procedures. Jefferson Unified School District creatively used long roller shades and magnets to improve classroom security.

Overall, the report concluded, "School districts in San Joaquin County have made significant strides toward increasing school safety, yet further actions can and should be pursued to minimize potential threats." Proper training, drills, plans, and fostering a positive school environment, including a robust safety culture, are essential to mitigating tragic outcomes resulting from emergency situations.

22-23 Grand Jury School Safety Report
Download PDF • 535KB

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