San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) staff provide training, technical assistance, and direct services to assist school districts in developing and supporting their Comprehensive School Safety Plans. These plans incorporate the Incident Command System (ICS) which is a specific requirement of the National Incident Command System (NIMS). NIMS guides all levels of government and non-government organizations and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from incidents that may impact schools.
Maintaining Safe Learning Environments: Threat Reporting and Firearms Safety
Ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff members while on a school campus is integral to student success. Everyone has a role to play in maintaining safe and secure learning environments, and new legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 906, aims to increase collaboration with law enforcement and reinforce the importance of safely storing firearms in the home.
This resources contains a brief overview of SB 906, considerations for districts/schools when addressing the new requirements, helpful definitions, and some answers to important questions about the legislation. For additional resources and information, visit Improving School Safety Through Bystander Reporting: A Toolkit for Strengthening K-12 Reporting Progress from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and United States Secret Service.
Senate Bill 906 Overview and Requirements
SB 906, most of which went into effect Jan. 1, 2023, has two important requirements for schools.
- Parent/Guardian Notification About California Laws on Safe Storage of Firearms: Starting in the 2023-24 school year (and effective July 1, 2023), local educational agencies (LEAs) are required to notify parents about California’s laws around storing firearms safely. Information from the Safe Storage of Firearms memo should be included in your LEA’s annual notification to parents and families. The memo can be found on the California Department of Education website or within the SDCOE Annual Notification template.
- Immediately Report Homicidal Threats to Law Enforcement: SB 906 requires a school official who is alerted to or observes any threat or perceived threat related to grades 6-12, to immediately report it to law enforcement. Law enforcement, with the support of the LEA, must immediately investigate the threat.
"Threat or perceived threat" means any writing or action of a pupil that creates a reasonable suspicion that the pupil is preparing to commit a homicidal act related to school or a school activity. This may include possession, use, or depictions of firearms, ammunition, shootings, or targets in association with infliction of physical harm, destruction, or death in a social media post, journal, class note, or other media associated with the pupil. It may also include a warning by a parent, pupil, or other individual. The threat does NOT need to be firearm-specific, it must only be related to a homicidal act/thought.
As a general rule, LEAs should continue to follow their established threat assessment protocol when addressing a potential threat. When there is reasonable suspicion that the pupil is preparing to commit a homicidal act related to school or a school activity, law enforcement should be contacted immediately rather than at the conclusion of the threat assessment process. Law enforcement will then work with the LEA to conduct the threat investigation. If school staff is unsure whether there is reasonable suspicion, reach out to the law enforcement partner that serves your school.
When two or more school officials jointly have an obligation to report the threat and when there is agreement among them, they may submit a single report. Law enforcement will keep a record of any reports received.
Once notified, law enforcement, with the support of the local educational agency, must immediately investigate. At this point, the school should share with law enforcement any information already gathered as part of its threat assessment. The report submitted to law enforcement must include copies of any documentary or other evidence associated with the threat or perceived threat. Information that can be shared with law enforcement is outlined in Record Sharing References.
The investigation and threat assessment should include a review of the firearm registry of the Department of Justice and, if justified by a reasonable suspicion that it would produce evidence related to the threat or perceived threat, a school site search, and/or search of student property. It does not include a search of the student’s person.
We know schools remain among the safest places for students, and school leaders, educators, and staff members take their responsibility in promoting safe campuses and addressing safety concerns very seriously. SDCOE gathered tips for educators and families to talk with kids about school threats.
A new brochure created by SDCOE and local law enforment partners offers tips on what school employees look for and what to do if they are concerned a student may be a danger to themselves or others.
SDCOE compiled resources to help adults as they support students with processing their thoughts and feelings following a school shooting.
When there are horrific mass shootings in our country, our young people need a safe space to share their thoughts, worries, or fears.