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Superintendent’s Message: School Safety and Reflection on the Events in San Bernardino

Senseless violence against innocent victims. It’s happening far too often these days, but earlier this week tragedy struck in our own backyard.

As I reflect on the senseless act of violence that occurred Wednesday at the Inland Regional Center (IRC) in San Bernardino, a few thoughts came to mind and I’d like to share them with you.

First, my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, the employees at the IRC, and anyone else affected by the tragedy. A few members of our RUSD family were directly impacted by this incident, and that pains me to no end. We are a tight knit family here at RUSD, and when one of us is affected, it impacts us all.

Second, I think about our 42,000 students and can only imagine the thoughts and feelings that may be churning in their minds this week. Our kids are our greatest asset – the future of this great city – and as educators, it’s part of our duty to do our best to make them feel safe. There’s an article in the LA Times (link below) with the headline: “How to talk to your kids about the San Bernardino shootings.” The article lists some of the methods we can use to help children cope, and the first item on the list may be the most important. Although the text is directed at parents, please remember our responsibilities as educators:

       1. Assure them that they’re safe

 This is the most important step, experts say, and the one to take first.

“[Kids are] anxious and worried, and they’re dealing with the unknown,” Brett Nelson, a Cal State San Bernardino professor said. “Parents have to be role models in terms of establishing a sense of safety, security, predictability.” Kids who feel unsafe can have a hard time concentrating, or can become anxious and more afraid, which is why parents should let children talk about their concerns.

Let’s not forget that students aren’t the only ones who can be emotionally affected by an event like this. We should be cognizant of the needs of children and adults alike, and provide the opportunities for any individual to get the counseling they need.

You’ve heard us say this before, and I’ll reiterate: Safety is our number one priority here at RUSD. While education is our main focus, we will not make any compromises when it comes to safety. To ensure safety at our schools, 1) RUSD has strong relationships with the Riverside Police Department, Fire Department and the County Sheriff’s Department, as well as other agencies designated to keep us safe; 2) we employ school resource officers and campus supervisors to monitor and keep our campuses safe; 3) we are aggressively promoting our School +2 initiative which keeps students engaged in school activities so they have less time to engage in detrimental behaviors; and 4) we’ve conducted rigorous staff safety training sessions, and we are currently in the process of planning a refresher training during the first part of the new calendar year.

Unfortunately, it’s times like these that give us a heightened awareness of our own preparedness. Please take some time (if you haven’t already) with all of your staff and students, and review basic safety practices and procedures in case there is ever an emergency at your facility.

You are all doing an outstanding job of educating students, as well as maintaining order and safety. Every day thousands of children walk through our doors without the feeling of fear or maltreatment. Let’s continue to work together to do our best to keep our RUSD family safe. Stay vigilant, always report suspicious activity, and continue to assure our students that they are in a safe environment.




Superintendent, Riverside Unified School District


 Read “How to talk to your kids about the San Bernardino shootings”

 To report suspicious activity, contact:

WE TIP LINE 1-800-78-CRIME or 1-800-782-7463