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 recently contracted an outside security consultant, PrinceKallin, to provide us with an objective review of our procedures along with recommendations for enhancing our practice. 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.
Area #1: Mental Health and Wellness
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: We have met with the Safety Administrator at each school site and have introduced the concept of Student Care Teams. The DTAT will assist school sites in the creation, organization, and functionality of these teams to provide resources to those students and families in need of them.
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. Additionally, volunteer Danica Lynch creates weekly mindfulness videos that are shared with all teachers for use with students.
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 “Needs 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. These vital services made an immediate and successful transition to telehealth in mid-March of 2020 and continue to adapt to the changing educational landscape in order to prioritize student wellbeing.
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, La Mesa, Canyon, Sierra Vista, Placerita, Arroyo Seco, Rio Norte, Rancho Pico, Bowman, and Sequoia. Saugus is planning to train all staff as soon as we are able to train in person, and Hart has been trained in "Coaching Greatness." This training is 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. The training is currently in the implementation phase of Tier 1; the training is currently on hold until the resumption of in-person training delivery for maximum effectiveness.
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.
Area #2: Site Security
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. This program is currently paused while students are engaged in distance learning, but it will be reinstated to 100 percent capacity upon the resumption of in person instruction for all students. 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: District staff have evaluated several vendors to assist with implementing this best practice and have selected SafeHiring Solutions, LLC, the parent company to SafeVisitor Solutions. With SafeVisitor, schools will be able to verify the identity of each visitor and specify a destination and length of visit. Additionally, each visitor will be checked against the National Sex Offender Registry as well as any pre-loaded list uploaded by the school such as custody orders, restraining orders, or any other applicable court orders in possession of the school. Should a visitor be on one of those lists, a discreet email will be sent immediately to a predetermined list of site administrators who can evaluate and manage the situation as needed. The system will issue a visitor’s badge with picture of the visitor, destination, date and time, and duration of visit, and should a visitor overstay the length of time specified on the badge, an email will be sent to an administrator to investigate why. SafeVisitor provides schools with the ability to know what visitors are on campus, where they are, and how long they are expected to stay with just a few keystrokes. The Governing Board recently authorized the implementation of this visitor management system, and it will be implemented this spring.
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 currently working on a plan 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 is moving forward to install shatter-resistant glass film for the windows described in the Best Practice. This project will begin in the spring semester of 2021.
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.
Area #3: Communication
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. We are currently working with CrisisGo on implementation, roll out, and training procedures. As a crisis communications platform, CrisisGo will assist 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 administrators, district administrators, and first responders, emergency mass notification email and text ability, roster and reunification procedures for students, and drill management capabilities.
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.
Area #4: Policy and Training
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 are currently being trained on the expansion of this tool, and a new training video for students and families is also being 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 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 12, 2020, 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 received non-violent crisis intervention training to help staff manage extreme student behavior resulting from the student’s primary disability; and we trained all lead campus supervisors in 24 hours of campus security training in October 2020.
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 what their sites are doing in those important areas. The Hart District has conducted multiple trainings in trauma informed practices, including:
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.