SDUSD Considers New Safety Proposal

SDUSD has seen 46 percent jump in calls regarding mental health issues over previous school year

San Diego area civic leaders have a new proposal for the second largest school district in California combining mental health training for staff with an endorsement for stronger gun control measures in an effort to increase school safety.

The San Diego Unified School District will consider the resolution at its scheduled meeting Tuesday.

SDUSD trustees approved an onsite safety measure for schools a few weeks ago, following the tragedy at Newtown, Conn.

Twenty elementary school students were killed Dec. 14 when a young man entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire.

The deadly school shooting prompted President Barack Obama to push Congress to renew an assault weapons ban and to institute a universal background check system.

The new proposal for SDUSD would focus not only on gun control but also on mental health care.

“There's a lot of national discussion about both sides and we really think that both things need to be done simultaneously,” SDUSD President John Lee Evans, Ph. D. told NBC 7 San Diego.

A clinical psychologist, Evans proposes the district collaborate with the San Diego Psychological Association.

Under the new safety measures, teachers would be trained to screen and identify individuals with potential violent tendencies.

“We need to notice when something's going on in schools so that we can get people the proper help. A lot of times these families want to find help but don't know where to turn,” Evans said.

The board president said he also wants to see a ban on assault weapons.

“There's nothing that creates 100% safety. These are all measures to reduce risk of harm,” he said.

Evans announced the resolution at a joint news conference with Mayor Bob Filner and San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne and other city leaders.

Under the proposal, PTA and ASB members would meet next month to collect feedback on the perception of school safety among teachers, parents and students.

In March, training will be held for SDUSD counselors with the help from the San Diego Psychological Association.

Then, in late spring, the district will integrate the feedback received from teachers, students and parents to decide the best process when the need to intervene with students or staff arises.

In the fall, principals and vice-principals will meet, share information and create goals on which schools will be involved in training and when.

The names of the high schools that will take part have not yet been decided.

“There’s no one answer,” said Chief Lansdowne. “The only tragedy is doing nothing at all.”

He said that the nation is looking for somebody to take the lead on this issue and he believes the task force working with SDUSD can provide that.

Campus police report receiving more calls for service involving attempted suicide, threats of suicide as well as mental illness cases.

SDUSD Police Chief Rueben Littlejohn estimated the increase at 46 percent more calls for service in those categories over the previous school year.

The school board meeting will be held at the offices on Normal Street in University Heights. A previous article incorrectly identified the location as the county's offices in Linda Vista.

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