SOQUEL -- Soquel Union Elementary School District leaders are revamping plans for what would they would do in the event of a violent, life-threatening emergency on one of the district's five campuses.
With the December fatal shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., still fresh in mind, district trustees on Wednesday addressed how a similar situation might be handled among teachers, administrators, parents and law enforcement.
A countywide effort is under way to streamline school safety plans to improve responses and better protect students. School officials countywide plan to hold an all-day school safety training workshop on Jan. 29.
As part of their work to rewrite the Soquel Union's safety plan, board members listened to Capitola Police Chief Rudy Escalante and police Sgt. Andy Daly describe planned law enforcement tactics when responding to a violent threat at schools.
"We search as quickly as possible and eliminate the threat. That's the mindset," Escalante said. "We don't stop to do first aid, we're not directing traffic. If the threat is active, we are going to pursue it and eliminate it."
Trustees also raised questions with police related to gun control, evacuations and communication with parents.
Daly went over a countywide response effort to school violence known as Code Red, a tactic that involves locking down the campus and collaborating with other local law enforcement agencies such as the Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Freitas told the board that having a solid schools safety plan countywide will depend on having information from schools, lockdown training at all of the campuses and law enforcement training.
"If this occurs, it's going to be fairly chaotic," Freitas said. "(Having a uniform plan) eliminates some of the guess work. It eliminates some of the decisions that have to be made in the moment."
Trustee Phil Rodriguez asked Escalante his opinion of placing armed guards on school campuses.
"Problems do come up with that," Escalante said. "It adds another variable. When we respond, you have to add that into the mix."
Soquel Union's updated schools safety plan will be a work in progress, Superintendent Henry Castaniada said.
"We're adopting a new policy," he said. "This is a total rewrite. A comprehensive plan takes time."
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