Grand jury praises school threat plan


Suggests training policy

SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz County Grand Jury on Thursday released a report commending education and law enforcement officials for creating a plan governing how schools handle violent incidents.

But the report also said that the schools should conduct practice drills to help them better prepare for those incidents.

The report covers targeted school violence, in which students attacked someone at their school with lethal means such as a gun or knife, and how school officials handle such events.

The report titled, “Threat Assessment in Our Public Schools, Committed to Keeping Our Children Safe,” was a follow-up to a similar report released last year, which was prompted by an “incident of threatened violence in a local school district” that occurred at the end of the 2015-16 year.

Grand Jury Foreperson Lauren Tobin declined to specify what that threat was.

But it was likely an incident at Scotts Valley High School in June 2016, when a 15-year-old male student gave a handwritten letter to a girl in which he described raping several girls and a teacher. He also described stabbing two students.

Scotts Valley Unified School District and the school were criticized for their response, and for not following the district’s sexual harassment policies.

In the earlier report, the grand jury questioned whether schools and law enforcement officials had a comprehensive plan for targeted school violence.

It concluded by recommending that the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office work together to create such a plan.

Those agencies responded by saying they would complete the plan by 2017.

In the report released Thursday, the grand jury examined the plan, and checked on the status of its implementation.

In creating the plan, the SCCOE and Sheriff’s Office convened a group whose members included representatives from school districts and law enforcement agencies.

That group met for four months, and the result was the Countywide Threat Assessment Plan.

Among other things, the plan outlines creating a threat assessment team that includes a school administrator, a law enforcement liaison, a mental health professional, teachers and school staff. A school safety partnership team will meet quarterly to evaluate the plan.

The report was largely congratulatory, praising the county office and sheriff’s department on creating the plan and a flowchart for school officials to use.

But the jurors criticized the plan in that it does not mandate training to help schools prepare for violent incidents.

After a grand jury report is released, the agencies in question typically have up to 90 days to respond. The responses usually contain several agreements and disagreements with the allegations. The agencies are not, however, bound by law to follow the recommendations.

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To see the report, visit tinyurl.com/ycpxt4tw.


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