This Column was contributed by Shawn Tennenbaum, San Benito High School District Superintendent.
In light of the recent school tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, San Benito High School would like to reassure our students, parents and the community that campus safety is our top priority. Working together as a team of administrators, teachers and district staff members, we have multiple layers of security and emergency preparedness measures in place to keep your children safe. We conduct drills each semester to help students and staff prepare to respond to actual emergencies and are constantly drawing inspiration from best practices in other districts to maintain our high standards of safety.
Here are some of the steps we take to prepare for various types of emergencies:
Closed campus: Students are prohibited from leaving campus during the school day without parent/guardian and school permissions. We have lockable gates around all sections of campus that are constantly monitored by campus supervisors and video cameras. All campus visitors must sign in at the Student Services counter, receive an administrator’s approval to access the campus, and receive a visitor’s pass that they must wear while on campus.
Safety plan: On an annual basis, our Board of Trustees reviews and approves a more than 200-page Comprehensive Safety Plan written, developed and updated by a School Safety Committee. This plan designates emergency intervention steps overseen by crisis team members in the event of a campus emergency, and addresses how information will be shared with the community during and after such an event.
Emergency drills: San Benito High School, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, conducts schoolwide earthquake, fire evacuation and campus lockdown drills each semester.
School Resource Officer: The district contracts with the City of Hollister to provide a fully-uniformed Hollister Police officer to work as a school resource officer to support ongoing school safety and anti-gang programs on campus. The officer is responsible for all patrol and response to police calls in the school area, including preventative patrols, investigation of suspected criminal activity and presentations to school staff about the latest safety protocols and procedures.
A focus on social and emotional wellness: Our team of counselors, guidance technicians and student support managers work daily to make sure that our students feel included, valued and safe from harassment or bullying. There is always someone available for any student who needs support. The homepage of our school website also features an anonymous tip line and a suicide prevention lifeline.
How you can help: There are specific steps parents can take to improve the safety of their children. Parents are encouraged to have conversations about being aware of their surroundings, reporting any concerning behavior and working to reduce bullying and violence. Know your children’s friends, monitor their social media, and periodically check their room. All too often, as more information about these events unfolds, we learn that there were missed signs.
Please feel free to contact the school with any thoughts you’d like to share on the issue of safety and security. Together, we can keep all of our students safe and build a better future for everyone.
Thank you for your continued support,
Shawn Tennenbaum, San Benito High School District Superintendent