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Safe at school

FCUSD superintendent talks school safety in wake of recent tragedy

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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After one of the deadliest school shootings in modern American history last Wednesday, Folsom Cordova Unified School District Superintendent Sarah Koligian sent out a letter to district families, employees and community members discussing the trust they can have in FCUSD. This sparked the interest to revisit the safety measures FCUSD has to ensure all students’ safety while they are in Folsom schools.

“As a parent of four children I understand the challenging emotions many of you may have felt when you sent your child off to school today,” she wrote in the letter. “We all grieve and struggle to comprehend the senseless and tragic acts of violence like what happened yesterday in Parkland, Florida, no matter how far away. There is no greater trust you place in us than to keep your children safe so they can learn, and I and your school leaders will continue to do everything in our power to uphold our responsibility.”

FCUSD works proactively and in collaboration with local law enforcement, including the Folsom Police Department which has a presence on area campuses.

Throughout the school year, the entire school has regular practice drills of all kind such as fire, active shooter, duck and cover, studying the safety bag (filled with emergency aid), buddy system and discussions between students and teachers to make sure the information is out there and students know what to do in case of an emergency.

“The school resource officers have a strong presence at our schools and in Folsom and Rancho Cordova,” Koligian said. School resource officers are sworn officers of the local police department and are trained in the event the Emergency Response Plan is activated.

All visitors are required to sign in at the front office at all schools. Koligian said this is the first point of contact where they will be asked about the purpose of their visit.

“There are a set of questions we ask to make sure they have a reason to be on campus,” she said. “If they are legitimate, they will get a pass. We ask all our employees to wear their ID badges while on campus to help identify themselves at all times.”

Folsom is among the top 100 safest cities in America, and if anyone has lived here long, they know this is a fact.

FCUSD does not have metal detectors at their schools to identify weapons upon arrival, however if there is any suspicion, this district takes it very seriously.

“If there is any kind of suspicion from a student or an adult, our school resource officers would take the student in right away for questioning,” Koligian said. “Like every public school, we are made aware of potential threats. We look into them even if they turn out to be nothing,” she said.

Last September, a student allegedly posted threats against the school and it was reported. Immediately, law enforcement was notified and the student was taken in. In the end, there was no safety threat, but the district still had to take all precautions.

“I’m a parent too, and I can certainly emphasize with what goes through parents’ minds. It was a senseless tragedy in Florida,” she said. “We have a District Safety Committee where parents give input, the community gives input and the students give input. The students are an important stakeholder when it comes to their safety. This committee is fairly new. The next meeting will be sometime in the first part of March.”

The District Safety Committee looks at current safety plans and protocols to see if there are any areas of concern and where they could be more proactive to ensure safety in the schools. The committee also helps build awareness about the plans in place, Koligian said.

As far as the history with threats on FCUSD campuses, Koligian said the district does not have any record of having a credible threat on campus.

“Through vigilance, we have not experienced any physical threats, but we will respond the same way regardless of what it is when it happens,” Koligian said.

She said the district appreciates the community coming together to help create safe places for the students.

“We really appreciate the support,” Koligian said.