How We Are Preparing for School Shootings at Leadership Public High School

We are nearing the end of the first quarter of 2018, and we have already had 33 gun-related incidents at schools in the United States. The latest gun-related incident as of the time I write this was a school shooting that took place on March 20th, 2018 in Maryland at Great Mills High School. Given the daunting number of gun-related incidents, students across the U.S are coming together to speak out against gun violence. Schools across the U.S are also taking precautions in the case of a school shooting. This is no different at Leadership Public School in Richmond, CA where we are looking to prepare for and prevent gun-related incidents on our campus.

Leadership Public High School (LPS) is both my alma mater high school and my workplace. As staff, we have come together and developed a plan for appropriate preparedness and prevention in the case of a school shooting. Some of the steps to ensure safety on campus are as follows: one to two administrators per floor (and our building contains three floors) supervise hallways during unstructured periods (lunch, passing periods, etc.), the main office has a controlled entry and exit point where access is provided into the building only to parents, students, or staff, and an opportunity is provided for parents to express their needs to counselors directly and in person during an established time we call “Coffee with Counselors.” All these steps allow for broad security checks from staff while taking parent input and implementing their suggestions for school safety as much as possible.

LPS has also provided all of its students with a lesson on school safety. In this lesson, students have an opportunity to reflect and discuss on what they already know about school shootings. They will have an opportunity to reflect on things that make them feel safe, and name the things that make them feel unsafe. In order to promote prevention of gun-related incidents, students will review ‘warning signs’ of a potential school shooting, and they will be instructed to report any of these signs to a staff member if they hear or see any of the indicators on campus or on social media. Here are some of the warning signs students will be presented with:

  1. an unhealthy obsession with guns or weapons
  2. aggressive behavior or over-reactions for seemingly minor reasons
  3. gestures of violence and unnecessarily violent drawings
  4. sudden change in academic performance or motivation
  5. having access to firearms or bragging about access to firearms.

Finally, LPS will be staging several drills to practice safety behaviors in the case of a school shooting. These will be opportunities for both teachers and students to convey and absorb the seriousness of a potential gun-related incident at our school. As unfortunate as it is to be presented with the need for gun-related emergency drills, the reality is that we must be prepared for any situation. How is your child’s school preparing for a potential gun-related incident? If your child’s school is not taking active measures to prepare, and more importantly, to prevent gun-related incidents, speak up and let the teachers and administration know that you expect your child’s safety to begin with staff taking the past 33 gun-related school incidents as serious as you take them.

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Robel Espino

Robel Espino

Robel Espino is an education specialist assistant, worked as an after school instructor, and serves as a youth leader in his local church. A first-generation college graduate, Robel attended California State University, East Bay in Hayward, CA, and received a degree in English Literature. Robel is an Oakland native who received k-12 education in the cities of Oakland, San Pablo, and Richmond, CA. He is a husband, and a father of a four-year old.

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