The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) stood behind its students Wednesday at a news conference dedicated to several topics in the arena of guns and school safety.
The district also addressed how it would handle its students participating in a national student walkout planned in the wake of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Students across the nation plan to walk out of class in solidarity with one another on Wednesday, March 14, and collectively call on state and federal lawmakers to change gun and school safety legislation.
Some schools and school districts around the United States have received backlash for committing to disciplining students who participate. The SDUSD said it has been working closely with students at each of its schools to try and develop an alternative to a walkout.
“We support student voice and agency,” SDUS board president Kevin Beiser said. “Our staff and principals have been reaching out to student leaders and parents in the community to coordinate and organize around March 14th’s student action.”
Beiser said that at at least one district school, students are coordinating with administrators so that the walkout results in civil engagement. While walkout plans at several other schools are still in the works, Beiser said he will always support the students.
He also encouraged community members “that care about our schools” to join the “March for Our Lives Rally” at the county administration building on Saturday, March 20, at 10 a.m., organized for the community to put pressure on politicians to take up the issue of gun regulation and school safety.
On Tuesday, the district board voted unanimously to approve a resolution calling for gun regulation. Beiser said that by passing the resolution, the second-largest district in the state would put considerable weight behind the voices of students, teachers and parents across the country calling for similar legislation changes.
“We’re going to add our voice to the voices of students, parents and teachers across the country to call on Washington to end their addiction to NRA money and lobby influence.”
The resolution also calls on Sacramento to implement a 10 percent tax on guns and ammunition to fund increased school safety resources at underfunded and cash-starved campuses.
As for a highly-debated proposal that adept school staff members be armed, Beiser dismissed it as a talking point meant to distract the public from discussing real solutions to the nationwide school shooting epidemic.
“It’s very, very clear that we should not give guns to teachers,” Beiser said. “Just the idea doesn’t make any sense.”
Beiser said that since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, the SDUSD has reinforced safety and implemented plans at all of its schools which are reviewed yearly.
A parent of two students within the district said Wednesday that kids would also benefit from adults looking at how they can better treat each other and lead by example so that kids don't learn hurtful behavior.
"I think if we as parents can lead by example and show more kindness to each other, and to our kids and teach them how to be kind, then I think we'd see a lot less of this nasty, mean behavior that comes out on social media," parent MJ Dunleavy said.