Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:
Reminder to Update and Adopt Comprehensive School Safety Plans, Legislative Updates, and Resources
The California Department of Education (CDE) is committed to helping you and your schools become as prepared as possible for emergencies and to maintain safe and secure school environments year-round. This message includes reminders of requirements and resources for enhancing comprehensive school safety plans and procedures.
As we move into 2020, I thank counties, districts, and schools for your work and efforts to support safe schools and learning environments. Times are increasingly challenging and demanding as you manage traumatic school safety incidents and emergency response events and experience an increase in school, community, and global violence.
It is more urgent than ever that schools, districts, and counties comply with California Education Code (EC) sections 32280–32289 and that comprehensive school safety plans (CSSPs) are revised, updated, and adopted by March 1, 2020. It is critical for staff and students to receive training and regular drills and for community partnerships with law enforcement, fire agencies, and first responders to be strong. School safety and preparedness resources, including a compliance tool, are available on the CDE Safe Schools Planning web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/vp/safeschlplanning.asp and the CDE Crisis Preparedness web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/cp/.
I urge you to include policies and practices that go beyond EC sections 32280–32289 requirements, including but not limited to threat assessment protocols, mental health policies, bullying/cyberbullying prevention procedures, active intruder/shooter protocols, lockdown and shelter-in-place procedures, family reunification plans, and regular drills and exercises for all staff and students.
Training on School Behavioral Threat Assessments in 2020
The CDE will be sponsoring two statewide trainings provided by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Supportive Schools, Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance (REMS TA) Center. A training session, School Behavioral Threat Assessments: An Introduction, will be hosted by the Sacramento County Office of Education on March 16, 2020, with registration information available soon. The second training date and location in Southern California will be announced at a later date.
In addition to on-site and online trainings, the REMS TA Center offers valuable guidance, tools, support, and best practices for emergency management for schools. The newest publication is The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans: A Companion to the School Guide. Resources can be accessed on the REMS TA Center website at https://rems.ed.gov/.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) provides valuable school safety and disaster preparedness resources and information that are available on the Cal OES for Schools and Educators web page at https://www.caloes.ca.gov/schools-educators. I encourage you to become familiar with these resources.
State Compliance Audit Guide
Starting in the 2018–19 school year, compliance with CSSP requirements was audited through the annual audit process, per EC Section 41020, to ensure that CSSPs are updated and approved by March 1 of each year. Findings from the first year indicate that local educational agencies must do more to comply in a timely manner. The following items will continue to be audited and reported to the CDE annually:
EC Section 32286(a): Each school shall adopt its CSSP by March 1, 2000, and shall review and update its plan by March 1, every year thereafter.
EC Section 32288(a): In order to ensure compliance with this article, each school shall forward its comprehensive school safety plan to the school district or county office of education for approval.
EC Section 32288(c): In order to ensure compliance with this article, each school district or county office of education shall annually notify the State Department of Education by October 15 of any schools that have not complied with Section 32281.
Per EC Section 32287, if a determination is made by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction that willful failure to meet these requirements has occurred, it will result in an assessment of not more than $2,000 against the school district or county office of education.
Assembly Bill 1747
Assembly Bill 1747 became effective January 1, 2019. This bill requires that during the writing and development of the CSSP, the school site council or safety committee consult with a fire department and other first responder entities in addition to law enforcement. It requires the CSSP and any updates made to the plan be shared with the law enforcement agency, the fire department, and the other first responder entities.
The bill also requires the CSSP to include procedures for conducting tactical responses to criminal incidents. AB 1747 requires the CDE to develop and post online best practices for reviewing and approving CSSPs. This project is in progress and will include input from statewide county school safety planning specialists.
Safe Storage of Firearms
As shootings and deadly violence in schools and public venues around California and the nation continue, it is urgent to remind you that it is the responsibility of parents, guardians, and household members to store firearms according to California law. My letter dated November 20, 2019, urges you to inform school communities about this law regarding safe storage of firearms. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this. This letter can be found on the CDE Letters web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/el/le/yr19ltr1120.asp.
The safety of our children and education communities is our greatest responsibility. Thank you for all you do to make our schools safe, secure, and welcoming for all students, families, and educators.
If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Nancy Zarenda, Education Programs Consultant, School Health and Safety Office, by phone at 916-445-8441 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction