Parents and teachers in the San Jose Unified School District are demanding district leaders take action to address a recent string of shooting threats.
Almost 300 teachers, parents and residents across the largest school district in Santa Clara County have signed a petition from Abraham Lincoln High School parent Trudi McCanna and English teacher Elizabeth Neely. They want the school board to come up with a communication plan and community task force, as well as an assessment of safety equipment, including cameras and intercom systems, and any needed repairs.
The petition follows safety threats at several SJUSD schools. On April 21, a Herbert Hoover Middle School student was caught carrying a loaded firearm and taken into police custody. On May 14, a Lincoln High School student made a threat on social media to bring an assault rifle to school and shoot classmates. He was arrested after attending school the following day. On May 17, police arrested a Willow Glen High School student who walked onto campus armed with a loaded ghost gun and knife.
The school community—which includes guardians of more than 30,000 students across 41 campuses—has criticized the district for not being more transparent when these threats occurred.
“I’m really seeing these now as a pattern of continued trauma on the kids,” McCanna told San José Spotlight. “I’m not yet seeing us advancing as a community far enough in how we’re handling it. It doesn’t feel to the kids like the adults are managing the situation competently.”
Jose Magana, SJUSD school board president, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
McCanna, who has children who attend Lincoln and Willow Glen high schools, hopes to see better collaboration between the school board, teachers, parents, mental health professionals and law enforcement agencies. On Thursday night she wants the school board to implement the suggestions made in the petition or come back with other ideas.
“We all have to come together on this,” she said.
Sarah Brankis, a math teacher at Lincoln High School, wants to see the district listen to teacher input and apply it toward student needs, as well as hire more mental health professionals.
“A lot definitely has happened and we’re the ones that are in the trenches,” she told San José Spotlight, “We just need a little bit more of a push toward a new era of safety and communication within San Jose Unified.”
Deana Thai, a visual arts teacher at Lincoln High School, said current processes aren’t working and students have voiced that they don’t feel safe on campus. She said cameras don’t work properly and the phone system goes down with the internet.
“It’s really important to address current policies regarding safety and make it a board agenda item,” Thai said. “It’s the only way to open a channel for a collaborative effort in making school feel safe for our students.”
The next San Jose Unified School District board meeting is at 6 p.m. Thursday at 855 Lenzen Ave. in San Jose.
Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected].