Recent threats prompt district security reassessment

CAM MEDRANO

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  • Youth resource officer Marc Kelley stands aside gates at the head of Campo Street. Past the RHS cafeteria, students exit through an alley at the end of Campo that remains open.

    CAM MEDRANO/EYE OF THE TIGER

  • Youth resource officer Marc Kelley stands aside gates at the head of Campo Street. Past the RHS cafeteria, students exit through an alley at the end of Campo that remains open.

    CAM MEDRANO/EYE OF THE TIGER

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Amid recent security threats against schools throughout the Roseville Joint Union High School District, Roseville High School administrators began to develop a growing sense of awareness for possible hazards that may challenge campus security.

RHS principal David Byrd believes that this newfound point of view will aid the security of each school site, as district officials strive to improve student and faculty safety.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a heightened sense of security,” Byrd said. “I think that’s what we’ve been on in the last month nationwide.”

Pre-existing organizations, such as site safety teams, work to establish organization for campus safety measures. Each school within RJUHSD maintains a crisis response team composed of administrators and teachers responsible for determining the severity of concerns around campus and reviewing emergency procedures.

According to executive director of personnel services Brad Basham, the district expects the CRT from each school site to establish a regular schedule of meetings. Ultimately, frequency is decided by the school itself, typically determined by the site head of the CRT. For RHS, assistant principal Jason Wilson is responsible for calling each meeting into session.

According to Byrd, meetings may be postponed if an immediate need is not present. After security concerns throughout the district became more prevalent, Roseville High’s CRT met for the first time during the 2017-18 school year last month. Meetings typically include discussions of injury reports, possible safety hazards and safety plans, according to several CRT members.

On the district level, administrators began to advocate for frequent safety drills in order to establish familiarity with students and teachers.

“[The district is] encouraging our sites to do safety drills more often,” Basham said. “We used to do them twice a year and now we’re looking at monthly.”

Evacuation and lockdown drills allow teachers to practice the use of Catapult EMS, which serves as a crisis management service that provides communication amongst faculty members. Basham believes perfecting the Catapult system will lead to organization in case of an actual threat on campus.

The service allows teachers to account for students during emergency procedures, which Basham believes benefits the district in alerting parents and guardians of current events.

“We can’t overcommunicate,” Basham said. “It’s important for families to know what’s going on.”

According to Basham, district officials first compile accurate reports to communicate throughout the district due to the spread of misinformation during lockdowns through social media.

“[School districts] want to be the credible source,” Basham said. “We try to give as much detail as we possibly can but we want to make sure that [parents] turn to us.”

In the event of a lockdown, school sites send proximity alerts to nearby facilities with the motive to commence a shelter-in-place at those locations. Last month, Adelante High School went into lockdown upon the discovery of a bathroom stall message that suggested intentions of a shooting. Roseville Police Department arrived on scene to search students while Roseville High School, Independence High School and Roseville Adult School initiated a shelter-in-place.

According to Basham, RJUHSD did not have reason to believe the credibility of the threat towards Adalante, but still strives to secure student and faculty protection.

“Because of what’s been going on nationwide… we’re just not going to take the chance anymore,” Basham said. “When you see that kind of threat we’re going to make sure that our kids are safe.”

Earlier this month, online threats made by a former Granite Bay High School student targeted students at both Adelante and Oakmont High School. Roseville PD investigated the threats and later found a gun in the former student’s car.

“Most of the stuff that we see on social media could be a real precursor to something,” Basham said. “That’s what we saw recently with the arrest of a graduate.”

While Basham believes student intervention and reports may assist in averting security threats, ensuring student security is ‘impossible.’

“We can never say we’re 100 percent,” Basham said. “What we can do is try to reduce the likelihood and make sure that our schools are as safe as possible.”

Efforts to improve campus security at RHS include Campo Street gates which remain closed during school hours and the approval of plans to implement a glass barrier in the admin building hallway. According to director of facilities development Scott Davis, the district must consult with the city of Roseville in order to gain approval for security enhancement projects on city property.
To move forward with construction proposals, individual schools annually submit a list of projects subject to review by the district. Aforementioned projects are prioritized based on practicality and budget constraints. According to Davis, site projects commonly receive funding from Measure D bonds.

KALE JIBSON/EYE OF THE TIGER
Students and faculty occupy the admin building hallway. Last month, the district board approved plans to implement a barrier where the hallway begins in order to increase campus security. The glass divider will have two doors and will be locked during school hours, according to RHS principal David Byrd.

“Over the years we have worked with the City of Roseville to install the fencing that currently closes off Campo Street during school hours and we are currently working with the City to gain approval to fence the alley adjacent to the cafeteria,” Davis said in an email.

According to Basham, the alley which neighbors the cafeteria generated security concerns for RHS administrators because there is no concrete barrier that prevents trespassers during school hours.

In response, the district prioritized plans to block off the alley. While the district is optimistic security issues regarding the alley will be resolved, there is no allotted time frame for the construction of a gate.

“I’m certain fencing will be installed at the alley; unfortunately this is not a straightforward project where a time frame can be reasonably estimated,” Davis said.

Although the alley serves as a direct open access point onto campus during school hours, students commonly walk through the alley to and from school.

“We want to close some of those entrances to campus off and that’s going to inconvenience some people,” Byrd said. “We get that but if you’ll change your patterns a little bit we’ll all be a little more safe.”

While tangible deterrents such as fencing or an officer on campus may dissuade intruders, Byrd believes ‘less concrete’ restraints such as healthy communication between peers and a respectful campus culture prevent instances of violence from occurring at all.

“The school is not an enemy,” Byrd said. “The school is a place where you can relax and actually get help.”

According to Basham, the district encourages students to report suspicious behavior found on social media in order to prevent acts of violence.
“We applaud students that step forward and keep our students safe,” Basham said.