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School Safety, Security, and Emergency Preparedness


San Juan Capistrano, California

December 17, 2012


TO:                  The CUSD Community and Staff

FROM:            Joseph M. Farley, Superintendent


People everywhere have been impacted by the tragic events in the Newtown Public School District and Sandy Hook Elementary School. A natural response to those events is an increased concern for local school safety. This memorandum outlines the safety, security, and emergency preparedness programs of the Capistrano Unified School District.

The District has an affirmative responsibility for school safety because it is entrusted with protecting the children it serves.  This is an important leadership responsibility of Michael Beekman, who oversees student safety and emergency preparedness in his role as Executive Director, Safety and Student Services. Mr. Beekman has implemented and refined many of our procedures and works closely with law enforcement, and other safety personnel, to incorporate best practices into our plans.

The following information addresses the District’s safety preparations and how they are practiced in our schools:


  • District officials, working in collaboration with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, constantly evaluate emergency response plans. Whenever an event takes place that may influence the District’s response to an emergency, these plans are updated and modified to stay current with best practices in school safety and security. A number of observations about what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School have contributed to changes we are currently implementing within District safety plans. One identified need is for more Districtwide consistency on safety procedures in the schools.


  • The Orange County Sheriff’s Department works collaboratively with the District on school and student safety. As evidence of the Sheriff’s Department commitment, it assigns seven full-time deputies to work exclusively in District schools.


  • In addition to the full-time deputies, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department also provides a four-person team of police specialists that serves as a School Mobile Assessment and Resource Team (SMART). This team is activated whenever there is a need to thoroughly investigate any threat of school or student-related danger. The District is committed to early identification and intervention of any student who exhibits at-risk behavior, including violent conduct. A proactive approach is an important aspect of prevention.


  • The District partners with the Pepperdine Resource Youth Divergence and Education Program to provide assessments and referrals for appropriate remediation for at-risk students and their families.


  • Sheriff-directed simulations and drills are done routinely in every police jurisdiction in the District. The simulations include “active shooter” simulations and drills, as well as table-top exercises that provide specific scenarios for resolution. The purpose of these drills is to familiarize local law enforcement agencies with our school sites and to allow staff members to receive training on implementing best practices to emergency response.


  • As a result of newly developed software, all sheriff vehicles in the region have immediate access to school floor plans and aerial photographs of schools on their dash-mounted computer screens.


  • Each school in the District is required to submit, and update, an annual School Safety Plan. The plans address how schools will respond to a variety of school-related emergencies and include:


  • Hazard assessments
  • Evacuation plans
  • Standardized emergency management plans
  • Shelter in place and lockdown procedures
  • Administrative contact information and room phone directory
  • Bell and bus schedules
  • Phone directory, including classroom telephone numbers
  • Site plans, maps, and aerial photography
  • Disabled students’ evacuation plans
  • Lists of students who receive medication, what medication, when it is received, and at what dose
  • Evacuation routes and locations
  • Utility shutoffs
  • Student/parent reunification plans
  • Emergency drill schedules


  • Monitored lock-down drills are also conducted annually in every District school.


  • Using the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as a model, the District maintains a centralized Emergency Operation Center that may be immediately activated to oversee and distribute communication across the entire District. With 25 phone lines dedicated to emergency use, this system allows parents to seek additional information in an emergency by contacting the District’s regular phone line. When there is a need for a communications center at an individual school site or location, the District can activate its mobile version of the Emergency Operation Center.


While we hope we will never have to implement the drills and procedures outlined above, we also understand they must be practiced regularly as part of our emergency response systems. These systems require regular updates and improvements to guarantee their ongoing effectiveness.

Posted by: Marcus Walton Published:1/11/13
Audience: Homepage