Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:
Safe Storage of Firearms and School Safety and Security
As California returns to in-person learning after more than a year of uncertainty, loss, and heightened stress responses, the California Department of Education (CDE) is focused on the physical and emotional safe return of all students to schools.
In spite of decades of high-profile school shootings throughout the U.S., safety overall has improved and violence has dropped in our schools. But with more students coming back to campuses in the fall, and with heightened stress levels around schools, we must continue to prioritize healthy school environments and prevent school attacks and safety scares.
The traumatic impact of school shooting incidents is evident. With each incident, regardless of location, our awareness of the need to be vigilant increases. Any level of violence and victimization is unacceptable.
Recent analyses of school shootings found that 68 percent of shooters brought firearms from home to their campus. That’s why it is so important for district and school administrators to help educate parents and guardians about California’s child access prevention laws. It is a crime for a person to negligently store or leave a firearm in a place where a child is likely to access it.
Please consider this an urgent request to inform your school community about the law regarding safe storage of firearms. Sample templates (in English and Spanish) for memoranda to parents and guardians informing them of the laws in California regarding safe storage of firearms are available on the CDE Violence Prevention web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/vp/. I strongly encourage you to use these documents or create your own to help educate parents and guardians of their responsibilities under California law.
When it comes to gun violence, schools cannot do it alone. The CDE and the education community are dedicated to making our schools the safest in the nation, but it is the responsibility of parents, guardians, and family members to store firearms according to California law. We must all work together for California’s child access prevention law to be practiced more widely throughout the state and prevent future tragedies.
Students and staff thrive in a culture free of fear and risk of school shootings. To that end, my staff will continue to provide resources and technical assistance. Please also visit the California Department of Justice Firearm Safety web page at https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/tips for more information.
If you have questions about school safety and security, please contact Nancy Zarenda, Education Programs Consultant, School Health and Safety Office, by email at SHSO@cde.ca.gov.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction