The march is not a school or district-sponsored event. It is also before school which means that individuals may choose to participate as they do not need our permission.
We are focusing on continually adding security and safety measures each and every year at all of our campuses. For an overview, please see below:
As a District, we have the ultimate responsibility to keep students, staff, and the community safe while at any of our sites. This is our number one priority, and adding security measures each and every year is an urgent and important goal for all of us. We need to help people be and feel safe while at our schools. Prevention and response are vitally important and described below, but we can all help young people thrive. We need to spend time with young people, talk with them, and really notice them so that we see when something is not right or bothering them; and, we need to take action when we notice something. We need to spend time with kids doing what matters to them because they matter to us (The Power of One Caring Adult, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_Oapo1Q7_w). Our eyes need to light up when they enter the room so that they know we care about them. Research shows that one, significant adult who invests time and concern for a child can improve the life of that child.
Counseling and mental health services are critical. We have school counselors and have recently added three mental health counselors district-wide, who provide ongoing individual and group counseling. These mental health counselors deal with issues that range from making friends to dealing with serious personal and family issues and circumstances. They help young people deal with loss and the death of a loved one. They provide Grief/Loss Workshops for staff and families. They help families find outside resources. They also help us navigate the system when there are signs of neglect and/or abuse. These students need us to help them, and our counseling services are critical for a successful recovery.
We train secondary staff about suicide prevention and how to recognize danger signs. Programs, such as Zones of Regulation, are implemented at elementary schools to address executive functioning and emotional regulations. Secondary programs, such as Shed the Noise, are aimed to de-stigmatize mental health and encourage getting help for mental health concerns. We also hold parent education nights that emphasize signs, symptoms, and strategies to address mental health concerns.
We have multiple programs to address bullying, cyberbullying and appropriate use of social media. Lessons on digital citizenship are implemented across our district. PEACE week supports inclusions and anti-bullying messaging. We hold numerous parent education nights to reinforce responsible use of social media. Discipline measures are in place to strongly support our zero tolerance for bullying. We message, “THINK before you post – is it True, Helpful, Informative, Necessary, and Kind?”
Substance Abuse Prevention remains important work. We have to be diligent in keeping up with what is available to our students as these substances can be extremely dangerous and have dire consequences. We employ a Drug Detection Canine Program and random drug testing at our secondary sites. We have curriculum to address the appropriate use of legal drugs, the consequences of using illegal drugs, and offer a comprehensive training and counseling program for offenders. We offer AddictionPros.org, a web-based referral system for substance abuse programs and support available to families. We also partner with the Drug Enforcement Agency and law enforcement for our Prescription Drug Take Back Events to take back unused and unwanted prescription medications and get them out of our homes.
We also have a very robust, comprehensive safety plan. Most recently, we have added security fencing and campus supervisors at all of our elementary schools and are in the process of adding security fencing at our three secondary schools. The campus supervisors monitor the perimeters as well as the internal campus to be a deterrent and another set of eyes and ears to possible dangers. Many of our young people go to adults when they need help, and these adults are a great resource to our kids.
The District works closely with its three law enforcement agencies – Seal Beach Police Department, Orange County Sheriffs, and Los Alamitos Police Department in the areas of patrol, presence, and response. In addition, the District has consulted with the Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC) to conduct school safety assessments to identify ways in which to bolster school safety. Through those assessments, measures have been taken, like added security fencing, shatter-proof Mylar window film on classroom/office windows, a visitor management system at all nine sites, staff name identification badges, the locking of classroom doors during instruction, surveillance cameras at LAHS, increased campus supervision, and the development of a violent intruder protocol. In addition, some safety measures cannot be disclosed in order to further keep students and staff safe.
Violence Prevention is and always has been a priority for our District. We have a threat assessment protocol and team to assess risk of self-harm and harm to others. If students make a threat, they may not return to our schools until they have seen a mental health therapist and law enforcement has been involved. We also have swift consequences for anyone who physically hurts another person.
The Board has prioritized the administrative position of Director of Safety. This position oversees all nine school sites in the areas of campus safety, emergency preparedness, threat assessment, bullying prevention, substance abuse prevention, violence prevention and crisis response. We have AED’s at all of our sites and staff are offered CPR/First Aid ever year free of charge. The Director of Safety has addressed each school site, the District Office and the Auxiliary Office regarding the District’s Violent Intruder Protocol should a campus need to go on Lockdown. The Director of Safety leads a District Safety Task Force that is made up of multiple stakeholders across each school site that serve as liaisons for their school community. In addition, the District has prioritized a School Resource Officer (SRO) Program whereby a Los Alamitos Police Officer is stationed at Los Alamitos High High School. We are grateful for the financial support of this position through a partnership with the City of Los Alamitos, the City of Seal Beach, and the District.
The District has also implemented a confidential reporting system, TEXT-A-TIP (562)-344-5498. We urge everyone to report any behavior, activity, and social media posts/electronic communication that threatens campus or student/staff safety. Communication is vitally important and the support of everyone can help us continue to improve our comprehensive safety plan and programs.
We have a District Priority goal that every student is connected to school through academics, athletics, activities, and the arts. Being connected is important – it helps prevent isolation and increases the likelihood that another, significant adult will spend time with a child. We need to spend time with young people so that we notice them and have opportunities to be a positive, adult role model throughout their development. All of us can help young people grow up to be caring, competent, and capable adults, and this is the most rewarding work we do.
Sherry Kropp, Ed.D., Superintendent
Los Alamitos Unified School District
The article above is a response to inquiries to the District from the public about a planned walkout by students this week in recognition of the killing of 17 students in Parkland, Florida.