Valley educators and law enforcement officials will gather Monday in Fresno for a three-day workshop designed to help staff more readily identify threats to student and staff safety, including potential mass shooting incidents.
The workshop will come on the heels of Thursday morning’s shooting at a Santa Clarita high school in Los Angeles County that killed two students and injured four others, including the student suspected as the assailant.
Nation’s Top School Safety Expert Coming
It’s the second workshop on school safety hosted by the Fresno County Office of the Superintendent of Schools and will be taught by author/consultant John Van Dreal of Salem, Ore.
Assistant Superintendent Hank Gutierrez said Van Dreal is the nation’s top expert in school safety and was a resource for the FBI’s video, “Echoes of Columbine,” which was presented at the first school safety workshop in September.
“This is not a training to address stuff after it happens,” Gutierrez said. “This is pro-active. We’re trying to assess behavioral threats before they become tragedies.”
About 80 people from across the Valley have registered for the workshop, which is not open to the public. The participants, who will include principals, school resource officers, police chiefs, and school counselors, will then return to their respective schools or agencies to pass along the training to their behavior threat assessment teams, Gutierrez said.
The Superintendent’s office also will have staff undergoing the training, and those staffers will be available later to schools and districts that are unable to send a representative to next week’s workshop, he said.
Materials that will be presented, including templates for developing protocols for behavior threat assessments, plans to protect targeted or victimized students, and conducting parent interviews, are on the Superintendent of School’s website, Gutierrez said.
Secret Service Analyzes School Violence
The workshop comes the same month that the U.S. Secret Service released an analysis of targeted school violence. The report recommends creating multidisciplinary threat assessment teams and providing appropriate training to school staff to identify and assess behavior threats.
Over a 20-year study, the FBI identified some key indicators, including pre-attack behaviors such as recklessness, aggression, and impulsiveness, Gutierrez said.
“That goes along with the culture of the school,” he said. “When administrators and teachers and support staff are engaged with positive relationships with their students, some of these indicators can be identified well ahead of time.”