“The safety concern has always been a part of the District’s basic delivery to the community, and we [recently] came together right after the horrific incident in Uvalde Texas, to [address safety concerns.]” School Superintendent Quoc Tran opened the Town Hall meeting on Monday, Feb. 27 with remarks about safety.
The space that has opened up between official reports and student created videos of alleged events on campus has caused parental concerns to morph into a whispering campaign, and the nationwide crisis of mass shootings has added more stress to lead some district families into near-paranoia over the safety of students on campus.
Interim Police Chief Jason addressed the meeting, taking on the School Resource Officer program. “We believe very deeply in our SRO program, but we just have one officer – Nick Wells – who covers all of the schools in the district … private schools included. So that’s a lot for one officer.” He also emphasized that CCPD was “committed to a restorative justice model.”
Dr. Jennifer Smith, the Assistant Superintendent of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion set out goals for the discussion “It starts with being polite…we want to listen to each other, we want to hear each other, we want to solve problems together.”
Administration from all the schools spoke to their process of educating about emotions and responsibility, and noted that “often, these conflicts start on social media, and then they arrive at campus.”
‘Noon duty’ school yard supervisor and district parent Summer McBride noted that “We need more counselors; this is about being pro-active, rather than reactive. Until we have a ratio of 1 to 200 [counselors to students] at our high school and middle school, we are going to continue to see this problems. It’s a heavy lift [for counseling staff] and they are overwhelmed. We need Family Centers at all of our campuses, and we need to address these issues before we have to … call in the CCPD.”
Questions from the audience took almost an hour, and the concern about fights, bullying, weapons and social media all came into play. The level of animosity was high, with voices frequently raised and anger expressed at the administration.
While the district is clearly looking to address concerns, the issue is not one that allows for easy answers.