Here’s the link to a new column in the Daily Pilot regarding school safety and the N-MUSD’s plans, which are missing a crucial element: http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/opinion/tn-dpt-me-commentary-20180806-story.html

In the column and in a past post on this blog, I pointed out the importance of increased identification and counseling of troubled teens. They are the most likely “shooters,” not some deranged, detached adult climbing a fence armed with multiple assault rifles.

But you’d never know it from looking at the district’s website and safety proposals.

In this morning’s reports on CBSNews.com, there is coverage of the interrogation of Nikolas Cruz, a suspect in the Parkland school massacre. Here’s the first paragraph:

“Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz told a detective that a demon in his head — “the evil side” — told him to burn, kill and destroy, and that he thought about going to a park to kill people about a week before 17 people were gunned down at the school, according to a transcript of his interrogation released Monday.”

Here are some relevant facts from the transcripts:

  • He had a “penchant” for killing animals.
  • He attempted suicide multiple times.
  • He heard a voice in his head constantly, telling him to “Burn. Kill. Destroy.”
  • He told his brother about the voice.
  • When asked by a detective if he had a lot of friends, Cruz replied, “No.”

School safety is not rocket surgery but the N-MUSD falls woefully short of the comprehensive plan needed to prevent a similar attack on our campuses.

You’re probably asking yourself why… Why, with all of the easily available, obvious evidence pointing to the need for huge increases in identifying and counseling troubled teens, doesn’t the N-MUSD make this the focus of their program?

There are a few key reasons and many lesser ones.

First among the key reasons is the district’s disdain for anything that smacks of failure or a fault in any program We saw this with the monstrous foot-dragging over Swun Math, which took years to unravel because the district was unable to admit that the program’s flaws were too great to overcome.

And we saw it earlier this year in the handling of the suicide of Patrick Turner, an event that the district would rather sweep under the rug – and has – instead of honoring Patrick’s admonition to take action to help save his peers from the same fate.

Can’t talk about Turner’s suicide – oh, no, we don’t do that here.

Those are just two examples of how the district broom works to sweep events under the rug. There are many more.

The second reason is that the district’s leaders – the superintendent and the trustees – do not inspire the ranks to take bold steps. Everything is done in a plodding fashion to keep from ruffling any feathers and to help preserve the status quo. Keep off the radar, come to work with a smile, and collect your salary every month. And don’t ever – ever – point out that something is wrong. The N-MUSD never makes mistakes and therefore has no need to apologize for anything.

The third and final key reason is that they simply don’t know how to create an effective safety program. Everything I’ve mentioned in the article and in the past blog post was easily available online. With a few clicks of my mouse I learned, for example, that attacks are planned, that shooters leave hints, and that identification and counseling helps prevent violence. The typical shooter profile is easy to find, too.

I didn’t do anything that one of the assistant deputy associate superintendents couldn’t have done.

Just as they had to come kicking and screaming to so many changes, the district will eventually come to their senses and realize that the lead protocol in a comprehensive school safety program is identification and counseling. As usual, they’ll put some distance between these blog posts, the column, and other recent attention and demands, and make it an idea of their own creation.

In this case, no one should care because troubled teens will finally be getting the attention they should have been receiving years ago.

Steve Smith

 

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