Credit: Jane Meredith Adams/ EdSource Today
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson told a group of school safety experts in Garden Grove that more needs to be done to keep violence from reaching school campuses in California.

Speaking Wednesday at the annual Safe Schools conference, Torlakson said safety on school campuses remains a top priority, giving the state a grade of 4 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the safest.

“We are relatively safe,” Torlakson said.

Torlakson’s remarks came during a summer when the nation is experiencing a wave of racially tinged shootings in such places as Dallas and Baton Rouge. He said he would favor spending a portion of a $9 billion public education facilities bond initiative, Proposition 51 on the November ballot, on making security improvements to further safeguard the state’s 6 million students.

“It’s our new reality in America,” said Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens. “No venue is entirely immune” from the rise in active shooters on school campuses and elsewhere. “I can’t say it won’t happen here anymore.”

“We are committed to school safety in all of its dimensions,” said Tom Torlakson, California’s superintendent of public instruction.

As one example, Torlakson and the others mentioned the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, where 14 people were shot and killed and 22 were seriously injured.

“We need to heal as a nation. We need to come together,” Torlakson said. “Our schools can lead the way.”

Schools have not been immune to shootings. In recent years, incidents have occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, where 20 children were shot and killed in 2012; and the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, in 1999, when two students shot and killed 12 students and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves.

Torlakson said Prop. 51 would help make schools safe, using some of the money intended for facility improvements on K-12 schools and community colleges for safety upgrades.

Torlakson also noted that more efforts are needed to ensure the safety of students participating in athletics or after-school programs off campus, at such locations as recreation centers and city-owned stadiums.

“We are committed to school safety in all of its dimensions,” he said.

The conference — now in its seventh year — seeks to address other school safety issues, such as bullying and cyberbullying, gang prevention and intervention, truancy, dropout prevention, crisis response, alcohol and other drugs, mental health, legal issues, law enforcement, and building a positive school climate.

California law requires all schools to update a comprehensive school safety plan each year.

Torlakson noted that schools often delay making improvements. “That’s not acceptable,” he said.

Torlakson has created a statewide School and Community Safety Advisory Committee with more than 40 members. The committee meets regularly to promote school safety, showcase best practices, and discuss new developments. Information on school safety and violence prevention is available on the state’s “School Safety Resources” webpage.

The Garden Grove conference concludes on Friday.

Share Article

Comments (2)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * *

Comments Policy

We welcome your comments. All comments are moderated for civility, relevance and other considerations. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. Brian Brower 6 months ago6 months ago

    Too bad the article doesn't mention Education Code 38001.5, or Senate Bill 1626 that originally spawned it. Ed Code 38001.5 says school security staff that work more than 20 hours per week must be formally trained as outlined by BSIS (Bureau of Security and Investigative Services). KCRA3 News (Sacramento) ran an article a few years back that they discovered the vast majority of Northern California School Districts were not in compliance with that … Read More

    Too bad the article doesn’t mention Education Code 38001.5, or Senate Bill 1626 that originally spawned it. Ed Code 38001.5 says school security staff that work more than 20 hours per week must be formally trained as outlined by BSIS (Bureau of Security and Investigative Services). KCRA3 News (Sacramento) ran an article a few years back that they discovered the vast majority of Northern California School Districts were not in compliance with that code section, placing students in less safe environments. Every School District in California must comply with Ed Code and train their security staff, even if they call them “Campus Supervisor”, “Campus Monitor”, or even “Yard Duty”. These people are responsible for the over watch and well being of our children and should be trained to provide the best service possible.

  2. Richard Michael 3 years ago3 years ago

    It's too bad that this article isn't supported by any relevant evidence, as comments are required to provide. Torlakson is the only state-wide elected official that supports the $20+ billion in taxes that the bonds will require to be repaid from general state revenues. He rates school safety at 4 out of 5. Doesn't he know Pareto's principal? Improving that last 20% will consume 80% of safety expenditures -- in other words, 4 times more than it … Read More

    It’s too bad that this article isn’t supported by any relevant evidence, as comments are required to provide.

    Torlakson is the only state-wide elected official that supports the $20+ billion in taxes that the bonds will require to be repaid from general state revenues.

    He rates school safety at 4 out of 5. Doesn’t he know Pareto’s principal? Improving that last 20% will consume 80% of safety expenditures — in other words, 4 times more than it cost to achieve the current level of safety.

    He can’t he cite a single safety improvement that he wants — just hyperbole and vagueness.

    His analysis appears to simply be a play for more money (the bond) by using the specter of non-existent (he cites none in California) school incidents to put fear into voters’ minds. After all, it’s for the kids.

    He’s got a State Allocation Board Implementation Committee that’s overloaded with school bond industry players that will make sure to shower funds on their favorites.

    He’s also not provided an easy way to find out how the SAB doles out the money, but recent press releases about disbursements make no mention of safety as an area of focus.

    Perhaps it’s just a convenient time for him to get some press for his pet project. After all, the SAB won’t have much to do without a steady stream of new funding sources.

    But in the end, the simplest explanation may be the one that makes the most sense. The prison guards union might want some more cushy jobs with outrageous benefits. Schools are an, as yet, untapped market.