Sunday, February 3, 2019
[Nevada County] Nevada County Grand Jury examines schools’ response to safety concerns
A report released Thursday by the Nevada County Grand Jury found that school safety is "extremely important" both to the districts in the county and the Superintendent of Schools, and that the school districts have implemented many of the recommendations and training provided.
In May 2018, the Grand Jury released a report on school safety, visiting 16 of the 42 schools in Nevada County to see if there were safety programs in place, what they included, and what their feelings were about safety policies already in place. The jury also contacted the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office to find out what part it played in overseeing implementation of safety policies.
This year, the Grand Jury revisited the issue to review the responses provided by the school district to its recommendations.
Its report favorably noted the work done by the Superintendent of Schools to provide information and training to districts. And, the report said, the school districts have implemented site-specific modifications and additions in major areas, such as parents' guides, the appropriate use of social media, and classroom security and visibility.
"It is now up to school administrators, teachers, parents and guardians to ensure that their individual schools are maintaining and continuing to improve these measures," the report said.
The Grand Jury noted the cooperation involved in forming the Community Agencies United for Safe Schools and Safe Streets committee, a group that meets monthly. The group consists of school administrators and directors, law enforcement agencies, the courts, the district attorney, the Probation Department, Child Protective Services, the Office of Emergency Services, and the Behavioral Health Department.
The report does not specifically address the role of parents and guardians, but states they should be fully acquainted with the safety policies and practices of the schools their children attend.
The report then went through each specific recommendation made in last year's report, as well as the responses received from the Superintendent of Schools, the school districts and law enforcement agencies where appropriate.
The Grand Jury had recommended the development of a highly summarized parents' guide by the county, with each school adding instructions that are site specific. According to the report, the Superintendent of Schools developed a generic guide titled School Safety Information for Parents that was distributed to each of the school districts.
Distribution of the guide varied from posting on the school website to sending the document home with students. That guide included information on communication during an emergency, addressing the use of social media during emergencies or drills, the report said.
Other recommendations including specific training and increasing school security have been addressed and implemented, the report said.
One area that saw only some compliance was a recommendation on the use and deployment of resource officers to encompass all schools.
The Nevada County Sheriff's Office has assigned a school resource officer to both Nevada Union and Bear River high schools, while the Grass Valley Police Department has assigned a school resource officer to cover the Park Avenue campuses of Silver Springs High School and the Sierra Academy.
Grass Valley continues to seek funding for other campuses, the report said.
The Nevada City Police Department does not currently employ a School Resource Officer because of limited funding but has participated in activities with Grass Valley to acquaint students with officers and hopes to hire a part-time school resource officer in the future.
"The use of school resource officers should be increased but funding is a major impediment," the report said. "The jury encourages the Grass Valley and Nevada City police departments to investigate potential sources of funding for school resource officers."
January 31, 2019
The Union of Grass Valley
By Liz Keller