Last Friday we had a “non-traditional” but equally dangerous school shooting incident. In this case an outside individual came into a California school and shot and killed her mother (a staff member) before killing herself. In a press conference Monday night, school and law enforcement officials defended the decision to allow the intruder into the school, despite a protection order that prohibited her from coming within 500 yards of the school. “She was known to staff as the victim’s daughter, there was no reason not to allow her…” said an Upland police lieutenant. No reason except the protection order maybe?
The lesson here is that not all threats to a school come from the inside. There have been numerous incidents in schools where violence has come from community or personal issues that spilled over into the unsuspecting school environment. While we need to be exponentially more attentive to potential threats from within the school, this tragic event illustrates the need to diligently screen visitors and be aware of potential threats associated with our students and staff.
Perhaps the larger lesson is that despite literally dodging a bullet, it doesn’t appear that the school is making any immediate improvements that will help – like perhaps providing adequate training for the staff and students. Instead they are working on lighting, security cameras, and “other minor safety improvements”. Once again investing in “stuff”, not “staff”.
While in this case no students or other staff were caught in the deadly drama that unfolded in the cafeteria kitchen, the scenario could have ended very differently. Let’s not leave the safety of our school up to luck – let’s use the tools of vigilance, awareness, and training.