William S. Hart Union High School District

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School Safety

The Hart District is continually assessing our safety practices as part of our commitment to maintaining safe and inclusive schools for our students. As part of this work, we contracted in November 2019 with an outside security consultant, PrinceKallin, to provide us with an objective review of our procedures along with a summary of Best Safety Practices used in the educational setting. As such, the list that follows contains efforts in four main areas: mental health and wellness, site security, communication, and policy and training. 

For detailed information regarding each of these focus areas, please click on the titles below.

  • Best Practice: Establish a District Threat Assessment Team (DTAT) that brings together appropriate resources to identify persons of concern, assess potential risk of violence and develop violence mitigation strategies.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District has had a DTAT since 2016. In our efforts to expand the capacity of this team, we have converted our DTAT to a District Care Team (DCT) as we broaden the scope of the team to include proactively working with school sites to identify students who are in need of social and/or emotional support to intervene before a student is in crisis. This team meets every two weeks.

  • Best Practice: Establish School Care/Student Needs Teams at each school site within the district to identify and refer students with unmet needs to early intervention resources as appropriate to reduce the risk of targeted violence.

  • Hart District Progress: School sites have assembled and trained their Student Care Teams to ensure a high level of functionality to provide resources to students and families in need of them. These site teams meet every two weeks.

  • Best Practice: Develop and implement social and emotional learning modules as components of the existing health curriculum that is required for all incoming freshmen.

  • Hart District Progress: The District has purchased a social emotional learning curriculum titled CounSEL, which was created by UCLA. The curriculum contains 10-minute lessons that are ready-made for teachers to use in class, advisory, or homeroom. The curriculum can be accessed at by clicking here. We have also hired three additional social workers, one of whom is dedicated specifically to wellness. 

  • Best Practice: Where possible, assign an experienced licensed therapist, at the masters or doctoral level, to each school site for continuity of site awareness, ability to support School Care Teams and expansion of mental health capacity.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District employs a full team of over 50 licensed and pre-licensed therapists within the Counseling Department to provide intensive therapeutic services that help diffuse aggression, address isolation, and tend to the mental health needs of our general and special education students and families. 

  • Best Practice: Consider District-wide opportunities to provide trainings such as Capturing Kids Hearts (CKH) or Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) which support a consistent framework for intervention across the District.

  • Hart District Progress: Capturing Kids Hearts is an evidence-based practice and was adopted by the Hart District in 2012. We have almost 95% of the staff members at our CKH schools trained. The schools trained are: Golden Valley, Saugus, West Ranch, La Mesa, Canyon, Sierra Vista, Placerita, Arroyo Seco, Rio Norte, Rancho Pico, Bowman, and Sequoia. Hart High School has been trained in "Coaching Greatness," which is a training tailored specifically for athletic coaches and fine arts performing teachers.

    Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, PBIS, is an evidence-based, three-tiered framework to improve and integrate all of the data, systems, and practices affecting student outcomes every day. PBIS creates schools where all students succeed. The District is training teams on each campus in the principles of PBIS. This training continues in 2021-22 with our junior highs entering either Tier 2 or Tier 3 of the framework.

  • Best Practice: Develop and maintain relationships and communication with community resources such as Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH), School Threat Assessment and Response Team (START), and other local mental health resources.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District has long-standing relationships and communicates regularly with LACDMH, START, and many community partners. Since November 2019, we have strengthened these relationships and expanded our connections to support students, including outstanding support in the months following the tragedy by organizations such as the Child and Family Center and the Children's Bureau, who were pivotal in providing assistance and support to staff, students and families.

  • Best Practice: In order to maximize the effect of early intervention, it is recommended that the District engage in a Santa Clarita Valley-wide School Based Counseling (SBC) program that includes all the elementary school districts within the Santa Clarita Valley.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District, through its Director of Counseling, Dr. Nicholas Betty, has developed a very effective valley-wide School Based Counseling program with expanded access to our feeder districts, who are appreciative of this support system for future Hart District students.

  • Best Practice: Partner with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to provide School Resource Officers (SROs) to the District.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District currently partners with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to provide SROs. A seventh SRO has been added to support Castaic High School. The Hart District has a strong and positive relationship with the Sheriff's Department, whose deputies build relationships with our students and are part of the Hart District family. The Sheriff's Mental Evaluation Team (MET), in particular, is instrumental in prioritizing student mental health and safety. The Hart District has extraordinarily open communication with our local Sheriff's Department and can pick up the phone at any time to collaborate in keeping our community safe.

  • Best Practice: Develop parent and visitor management systems for each site within the District. Considerations should include identified access points, badging or similar identification mechanism, and escort protocols.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District utilizes SafeVisitor Solutions as its visitor management system at all sites.

  • Best Practice: Enhance and maintain perimeter security for all District sites. All boundaries should be clearly marked with visible signage articulating District rules for entry and use.

  • Hart District Progress: All schools are completely enclosed within a perimeter fence line. Sites review signage annually.

  • Best Practice: Obtain and integrate camera systems into District schools.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District has multiple security cameras at each site. We are in the midst of a project to standardize the number of security cameras at sites, which will result in the addition to the total number of security cameras in the District. Additionally, the Hart District has provided online access to the SCV Sheriff's Department, who are now able to expedite their ability to assess live situations as they are happening.

  • Best Practice: Apply bullet resistant glass or glass covering to school windows. Primary focus should be on outward facing windows (windows facing street and other public sight lines into school). Secondary focus should be on internal (campus) facing windows.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District has installed shatter-resistant glass film for the windows described in the Best Practice. 

  • Best Practice: Review signage within all school sites to ensure consistency of message and accuracy of directions. Signs should indicate expectations for on campus conduct, emergency resources and routes for emergency evacuation.

  • Hart District Progress: School site administration reviews campus signage annually.

  • Best Practice: Conduct an annual safety audit of each District site. The audit should include a check of the integrity of site perimeters and a review of safety plans and policies.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District is working with its risk management partner, POMS & Associates, to provide annual safety audits. These audits most recently took place at all Hart District campuses in the spring of 2021. POMS & Associates deploys school safety audit personnel who have experience both with school systems and law enforcement. Our representative, for example, is a retired School Resource Officer from New Mexico. 
  • Best Practice: Obtain a communication platform which allows emergency communications to potentially impacted groups (students, family, staff) both site specific and Districtwide.

  • Hart District Progress: The Hart District has contracted with CrisisGo, which is a crisis communication platform as well as a platform to track symptoms and perform contact tracing for COVID-19. As a crisis communications platform, CrisisGo assists the Hart District with: threat reporting; two-way communication with the threat reporter; instant alert to staff computers and mobile phones for threats; escalation ability to site and district administrators; roster and reunification procedures for students; and drill management capabilities.

  • Best Practice: Adopt a District-wide reporting mechanism for students, faculty, staff, and community to provide information regarding unmet student needs which may impact their and District safety.

    Best Practice: Re-brand Text a Tip. Text a Tip has been demonstrated to be an effective way for reports of potential threats to be shared directly with student’s school administration. Enhance recognition of this tool as appropriate for situations beyond threats to safety.

  • Hart District Progress: Text-a-Tip was rebranded to Student Care Lines in January of 2021 to serve as a communication tool for students and community members to easily report concerns involving potential behaviors of concern that might indicate a need for further action. For more information on Student Care Lines, please click here.

Best Practice: The District should create policy that emphasizes that safety is a shared responsibility between all members of the educational community.

Hart District Progress: The Hart District has re-branded Text-A-Tip to include a wider spectrum of wellness concerns. Site staff have been trained on the expansion of this tool, and a new training video for students and families has been rolled out. The Hart District has made significant progress in establishing wellness centers on each campus. The Hart District currently has wellness centers at 15 of its 16 sites; however, Bowman High School has a wellness corner in each of its classrooms. Site staff will continue to work with their communities to establish everyone's shared responsibility in caring and looking out for all of us.

Best Practice: The District should implement District-wide training for all staff to review “behaviors of concern” and appropriate reporting and intervention options.

Hart District Progress: The Safety Committee has identified behaviors of concern, and has worked with school site video broadcast instructors and a graphic artist to create a campaign for schools that was deployed in January of 2021.

Best Practice: Provide de-escalation and physical restraint training for all administrators, campus security, School Resource Officers (SRO), and special education staff.

Hart District Progress: De-escalation and physical restraint training for campus supervisors took place on August 10, 2021, in partnership with the SCV Sheriff's Department and the County Department of Mental Health. Special education staff received de-escalation training through our online training modules with Keenan and Associates. Additionally, select special education teachers, classified staff, counselors, and administrators receive non-violent crisis intervention training annually to help staff manage extreme student behavior resulting from the student’s primary disability; and all lead campus supervisors were trained in 24 hours of campus security training in October 2020 and all campus supervisors will be trained for the 2021-22 school year.

Best Practice: Provide District-wide training on trauma informed response and diversity/cultural awareness. Ensure attendance by staff and teachers, as well as volunteers or others who will have campus presence.

Hart District Progress: Every school site in the Hart District has established an educational collaborative where students and staff are talking through diversity and cultural awareness issues on campus. The Hart District has also established a focus of diversity and cultural awareness, with principals of each school presenting at a Board meeting last school year what their sites are doing in those important areas. The Hart District has conducted multiple trainings in trauma informed practices, including:

  • Building Interventions for Trauma Exposed Students - March 2018
  • Trauma Informed Care and Suicide Prevention in Schools - March 2019 and February 2021
  • Trauma Informed Teaching - December 2019
  • The Trauma Informed School - February 2020
  • Impact of Trauma and Stress on the Brain – August 2020
  • Effects of Trauma and Stress on Learning and Behavior – August 2020

Best Practice: Establish a cybersecurity capability. The District should develop the resources to monitor social media, screen for messages of concern, and manage responses in coordination with local law enforcement.

Hart District Progress: Digital safety is critically important to the Hart District, which is why we use Bark for Schools to help us protect our students both online and in real life. Bark monitors Hart District student Google accounts, including Gmail and Drive, for signs of potential issues like: cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, sexual predators, and threats of violence. When possible dangers arise on these school-issued student accounts, Bark for Schools sends school site administrators alerts so they can evaluate and address those concerns in a timely manner. With situations involving possible imminent student harm, we will collaborate with families, law enforcement, and local mental health agencies to ensure the safety of our students. These alerts also give school administrators insights that help promote the wellness of the entire student body. Bark is deactivated during winter break, spring break, and summer break.
 
 
After the tragic events at Saugus High School in November, 2019, the William S. Hart Union High School District initiated a process to review our safety and security processes to provide objective recommendations to the District for enhancing Districtwide safety processes focusing on industry standards, best practices, and evidence based research. To that end, the District collaborated with a small group of threat assessment professionals, who are
nationally recognized as experts in campus violence prevention, to:
  1. Summarize research and best practices in the area of school safety and threat assessment,
  2. Participate in community meetings to provide a framework to discuss current District processes,
  3. Evaluate District plans, policies and procedures related to targeted violence prevention, and
  4. Provide recommendations to the District for enhancing plans and procedures for campus violence prevention.
The link below contains the full report prepared by Prince/Kallin Consultants as a result of these collaborative efforts.
Governing Board School Safety Updates
The Hart District is committed to reviewing and updating safety practices on a regular basis. Please see links below to recent School Safety Update presentations.