(EMILIE WALLIN / EYE OF THE TIGER)
After a Placer County grand jury selected Roseville High School as one of three school sites within Placer County to evaluate emergency management, they found RHS non-compliant with 15 emergency management regulations formulated based on safety plans submitted to the jury.
In their investigation, the grand jury specifically identified the possibilities of a train derailment as their reason to examine RHS safety. The jury also evaluated Foresthill and Lincoln High School for wildfire and chemical hazards respectively.
RHS principal David Byrd accompanied several grand jurists and administrators in a campus walkthrough at the request of the jury. According to administrators, the grand jury did not disclose their purpose for the campus walkthrough at the time of the investigation, despite inquiries from the district.
“It was clear to me once they came that they were very interested in how we do lockdowns…evacuations.” Byrd said. “In fact, evacuation was probably their biggest concern.”
Executive director of personnel services John Becker believes the jury devoted much of their time towards abrupt emergencies rather than on-campus crises.
“They talk about a train derailing out there…that’s not the real safety work we’re doing.” Becker said. “The grand jury is kind of lost in that kind of stuff.”
Following the initial evaluation, the jury released a report titled ‘Emergency Preparedness- Placer County Schools,’ listing a number of findings and recommendations for the schools examined.
According to RJUHSD superintendent Denise Herrmann, some of the jury’s suggestions may be “financially prohibited.” For example, the report calls for the employment of a district employee who oversees all safety concerns at each site.
“We wouldn’t be able to afford to hire another person just oversee to safety,” Herrmann said. “We’re just going to have to continue to the best work we have with [what] we have in place.”
According to Becker, the recommendations made by the grand jury possess no legal substance and RJUHSD nor RHS is required to take further action. In light of the grand jury report, Becker expects to utilize the findings in creating future emergency protocol plans.
“The only requirement at this point is to analyze,” Becker said. “This forces us to really stop and take a deeper look, which in my opinion is always a good thing to do.”
The official report found a lack of continuity throughout Placer County and even within individual school districts. Despite these findings, Byrd believes continuity across all school districts does not permit a feasible solution for safety protocol.
“It is one big county, but we’re all different districts with different leaders and different people,” Byrd said. “That’s why things wind up looking a little bit different.”
In addition to a lack of continuity, the grand jury concluded that RHS had non-compliant plans for substitute teachers in an emergency crisis.
In the event of an emergency, safety protocol calls for teachers to utilize the Catapult EMS system, which serves as a crisis management service that allows staff to communicate and input attendance. Substitute teachers do not have access to Catapult because the service is linked with RJUHSD specified emails.
According to assistant superintendent of personnel Brad Basham, there are several components that prevent substitutes from receiving RJUHSD emails.
Since the district hires approximately 120-140 substitutes a year, this would require the activation and deactivation of dozens of accounts annually.
In addition, a majority of substitutes employed district are under the Placer County Office of Education consortium, meaning they work for other districts within the county as well. While RJUHSD adopted Catapult EMS as their means of communication during an emergency, other districts such as San Juan Unified School District utilize School Messenger to relay information.
In March of last school year, RHS went into lockdown following reports of a firearm on campus. During this time, one Honors English 10 class was under the watch of a substitute teacher who had no official means of communication regarding the status of the lockdown.
(CAM MEDRANO / EYE OF THE TIGER)
“[The sub] didn’t really have access to any information because they didn’t have the Catapult service,” junior Caroline Mason said. “We had no access to information to what was going on so it was a little bit scary.”
According to Mason, students in the class at the time of the lockdown received information from parents and peers.
The alternative to Catapult EMS requires substitutes to give their personal phone number to the registrar in order to receive updates and information regarding the crisis.
The grand jury report deemed this alternative as ‘not compliant’ with the guidelines used to conduct the evaluation.
As district officials continue to research ways to implement recommendations made by the jury, Becker believes RHS’ 106 year-old campus finds itself in a unique situation and findings such as the grand jury report will help guide district concerns.
“[RHS has] such an old campus with all kinds of nuances and variables that it’s always good to force to conversation.” Becker said.