Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $2,000,000)
School communities face an evolving set of threats, hazards, and security challenges ranging from targeted violence to bombing threats to cyberattacks. Additionally, as we navigate the multitude of effects resulting from the pandemic, and most schools have returned to in-person learning, educators and school administrators are faced with a wide array of stressors: staffing shortages, Covid related restrictions and concerns, policy modifications, student’s increased mental health concerns, and a rise in violent incidents on school campuses. Educational staff must not only manage their own personal challenges, but also work in an environment where the defining boundaries have been reformed multiple times in the last two years. And while educators have not traditionally been called upon to address security related issues, the nature of school safety is changing. School safety must now be defined to incorporate an increased emphasis on school security.
In an effort to assist schools in redefining school safety to incorporate an increased emphasis on school security, Cal OES proposes two positions, housed within Homeland Security Directorate, whose tasks would include raising awareness of potential risk factors and indicators for targeted violence in schools, assisting school personnel in becoming engaged bystanders as part of a comprehensive local prevention network, and aiding school districts in obtaining school security related training.
Utilizing the State Threat Assessment System, CalOES will coordinate the delivery of regional trainings, ensuring that all school districts have access to training which will provide guidance in utilizing effective methods for preventing/mitigating threats on school campuses. Cal OES staff will engage California’s school community at the County Office of Education, school district and regional level to provide guidance for school site physical security, behavioral threat assessment, emergency response preparedness, cyber security, bullying, and extremist recruiting and radicalization. Additionally, they will lead an effort in forming a multiagency workgroup to share and explore effective strategies for preventing/mitigating violence on school campuses and ensure an organized strategic approach to promote the use of these strategies on school campuses. Through this effort, Cal OES strives to ensure that educators in California’s K-12 schools are equipped with the knowledge and skills to respond effectively to prevent and mitigate the effects of school violence.