On July 26, the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) board approved Interim Superintendent Larry Perondi’s proposal to create a district Safety and Wellness Committee, a group that would focus on discussions on physical campus safety and the social and emotional wellness of students. Perondi said the goal would be to seek input, set priorities and align district resources to match those priorities, recognizing the work that has already been done by the district’s safety committee and work at individual campuses.
“The idea of talking about safety is not just an idea, it’s an imperative. That imperative includes multiple voices,” Perondi said.
Perondi said he wants to listen to the voices of teachers, students and the community, more than just those who have kids in the school. He would like to bring local experts and social service agencies onto the committee to create a much larger discussion and proposed hosting town hall meetings and a section on the district website detailing ongoing work.
During public comment at that meeting, the board head from a community member who was very concerned about school shootings and wanted to know what steps the district is taking to reduce the possibility of a tragedy occurring on one of their campuses.
“It sounds simple at one end but if we don’t talk about it, if we don’t sunshine this, then the community will assume that we’re not doing anything. But I can tell you we are doing many things in this district. We just have not coalesced it into a much bigger piece,” Perondi said
Perondi said the committee would not stall any ongoing work and is not a “fault-finding mission,” but would help find areas that the district can improve.
At the meeting, Perondi requested two board members to work with him to create the committee, with SDUHSD Vice President Mo Muir and Clerk Joyce Dalessandro offering to serve in the ad-hoc role.
SDUHSD Associate Superintendent of Business Services Tina Douglas provided the board with an update about the work the district is doing regarding safety. Over the summer, the Torrey Pines High School campus has been prepped for the installation of surveillance cameras. The cameras at Torrey Pines are on track to be ready for the start of the school year and will serve as the pilot program for expanding surveillance to all district campuses.
All SDUHSD school campuses were also outfitted with the Raptor visitor management system. The system checks in every visitor to campus and instantly screens them against national and custom databases. An identification badge with the visitor’s photo is instantly printed and records are kept for every visitor that enters a district school.
Douglas said the district has begun work on installing fencing and gating and reducing access points on the two most open campuses at San Dieguito High School Academy and Torrey Pines High School. The fencing projects are expected to be completed in phasing over the next three years.
Parent Rita Raden said fencing at the “wide open” campuses is one thing, but she said the most important thing the district can do is have more conversations with students, something she has advocated for since the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Those conversations have happened at individual campuses but not district-wide. As an example, following the Stoneman Douglas shooting, Canyon Crest Academy Principal Brett Killeen used his Raven Advisory Board to ask students how they could make the campus safer. Students represented every grade level on campus and weighed in with their opinions on locking the campus and active shooter drills.