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Guest commentary Oxnard Union High School District

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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Dr. Gabe Soumakian
The Oxnard Union High School District students, staff and our community are truly stunned by the Newtown, Conn., shooting and the unacceptable violence against helpless elementary students and teachers.

In light of the current national conversation about violence and school safety, our principals and staff have reviewed the school safety plans and submitted suggestions to our District Safety Committee.

District staff is working in collaboration with the Oxnard Police Department and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department to review and examine our lock-down procedures and, specifically, to address active shooters.

The School Safety Committee met on Dec. 18 to review staff input, and all schools brought forward recommendations to the committee. The School Safety Committee reinforced our current practices and made additional recommendations listed below that will require staff to change our district practice for how schools operate to safeguard students. Additional recommendations will be forthcoming.

The district will reinforce the following top priorities and practices:

Continue to review and update the school safety plan with district office support using a consistent and common template submitted for School Board approval on January 23, 2013.

Conduct a lock-down drill in coordination with police and sheriff based on a uniform, districtwide standard prior to the end of January. Staff will review and be trained with the updated procedures including posted signs in the classrooms.

The front administration entry shall be the only access point for visitors during the school day.

ID badges must be worn at all time by staff. All visitors (including volunteers, parents, former employees and former students) must sign in at the front administration entry and wear a visitor’s badge.

All teachers and staff must pre-lock their doors in case of a lock-down, which permits doors to close and lock quickly.

There shall only be two or three entry and exit points on campus at the beginning and end of each school day, each manned by a campus supervisor or an administrator.

All exterior gates shall be closed and locked within 10 minutes after school begins and opened only when the school day ends.

All campuses are closed during the school day, including the lunch hour. All students must check in if arriving late and check out if leaving early. All students must be accounted for every minute once they arrive on campus.

Lunch deliveries for students, if necessary, must be made at the front administration entry only, with no exceptions.

Administration must perform daily random metal detection, per existing board policy.

Each site must account for and inventory all keys issued to staff.

Administrators will meet with staff that use two-way radios and discuss with them the 10-code protocol. District will conduct monthly two-way radio checks with sites to ensure that all radios are operational and effective communication is in place.

Each site will promote its school Twitter account as a means of proactive instant communication with students, staff and parents.

District continues to contract with the police to have an armed officer at each school site.

Soumakian is superintendent of the Oxnard Union High School District.

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