Mourning for Uvalde, San Dieguito passes new safety resolution

The exterior of the San Dieguito Union High School District office in Encinitas.
The exterior of the San Dieguito Union High School District office in Encinitas.
(Karen Billing)

The San Dieguito Union High School District board unanimously passed a new resolution on school safety June 9, in response to the tragic mass shooting during the last days of the school year in Uvalde, Texas. SDUHSD Trustee Katrina Young brought forward the resolution with a heart mourning the loss of 19 children who will never graduate from elementary school and the two teachers who gave their lives trying to protect their students.

“I wrote this resolution because as a mom and a trustee, I felt compelled to offer solace to everyone in our district,” Young said. She also hoped the resolution would be an opportunity to talk openly about the policies the district has in place related to physical safety, emotional well-being and emergency protocols.

The board had previously passed a resolution on student safety and school violence in December 2021, following the school shooting in Michigan that left four high school students dead and injured six others. That resolution had reaffirmed one the board passed in 2018, in the wake of the Parkland High School shooting, in which 17 students were killed.

In this resolution, Young inserted statistics about school shootings: According to Education Week, the Uvalde shooting marked the 27th school shooting in 2022 and the 119th since 2018. She cited The Washington Post’s estimates that in addition to killing 185 children and educators and injuring another 369, school shootings have exposed over 311,00 children at 331 schools to gun violence during school hours since the Columbine High massacre in 1999.

The resolution reaffirms the district’s intentions to work as a community to address students’ mental health needs, exacerbated by the pandemic, which include anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD and aggression.

“We need to acknowledge the ongoing fear of school shootings and other acts of violence. I believe that all of our children should be able to go to school every morning free from fear and harm,” Young said tearfully. “While this board can’t do anything about the state of the world right now, we can let everyone know we care about everyone in district and that we prioritize their physical safety and emotional wellbeing. We can reassure them that we have plans in place… It’s not only our duty but also in our nature to look out for one another and that is what I hope this resolution accomplishes.”

During public comment, Michi Synn, a rising sophomore at Canyon Crest Academy, made a suggestion on how to make campuses safer and more secure for students. She said this year they only had one active shooter drill at school and she would feel safer with more training so she would instinctively know all exit routes as well as how to identify and help people who might be in mental and emotional distress—the signs, who to talk to and how to discuss it.

She said a safety committee was discussed last year but she worried that it might fall through the cracks while district leadership is in flux.

“We need to find a way to come together, to learn together, to celebrate our diversity and to heal,” Michi said. “I am counting on San Dieguito being a safe district for people of all backgrounds and a district where we can be successful on many levels, led by compassion, forgiveness and empathy.”

SDUHSD Vice President Michael Allman thanked Michi for her heartfelt comments while acknowledging that sometimes active shooter drills can cause a lot of anxiety. He suggested the district be mindful of that and research what drills or training would be the most beneficial for student safety.

In her comments, SDUHSD President Mo Muir asked that staff bring back a policy on mandatory reporting to the police if a student threatens other children at school.

SDUHSD Deputy Superintendent Mark Miller said the district does work closely with law enforcement and all administrative staff is trained in threat assessment.

“Our school site administrators don’t want anything to happen to their students,” SDUHSD Interim Superintendent Tina Douglas said. “If there is a serious threat that requires law enforcement, we are calling law enforcement.”