By John Glidden
Student safety, an empty board seat, and approving the application for a new charter school were some of items which defined the Vallejo City Unified School District in 2015.
The end of the 2014-15 school year turned violent when Jesse Bethel High School student Kenneth Maxwell “Max” Rusk, 17, was killed in May on a trail which runs along the side of the high school.
Zachery Kroll, 19, of Vallejo, and Elisha White, Jr., 16, of Suisun City, have been charged with murder for the slaying of Rusk.
After Rusk’s death, students several students protested outside the school, calling for better safety measures throughout the entire district, while parents repeatedly spoke to the Vallejo school board, asking the trustees to address school safety.
via Local schools face myriad of challenges in 2015.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today due to a threat of violence that closed all K-12 public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District:
“I support the actions taken by the Los Angeles Unified School district and law enforcement officials to keep students safe. Creating and maintaining a safe environment for students, teachers, parents, administrators, and classified employees is our top priority.
“I urge schools and districts to check their school safety plans to make sure they are up to date. The California Department of Education stands ready to assist school districts in enhancing and improving their safety plans. We have a variety of available resources for districts, including on our Web site.”
via LAUSD School Closures – Year 2015 (CA Dept of Education).
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
More than 60 Green Valley Middle School seventh- and eighth-graders rose to the challenge Monday.
The challenges of Challenge Day involved hugs, some patty cake playing and the opportunity to stand before the group and compliment someone.
The goal of the all-school-day session was to break down barriers and encourage the students to be the change they want to see.
Participants were nominated by their teachers. Crowd-source funding raised enough for T-shirts and lunch for the participants.
via Middle school students up for challenges of Challenge Day.
By Dianne de Guzman
Wednesday marks the first day of the 2015-2016 school year for students of the Vallejo City Unified School District, with the issue of school violence returning after a summer of discussion and debate.
Last week’s back-to-school BBQ and a listening session set the stage for the start of the year. Changes are on the horizon, along with a continuation of already-implemented academic programs for students.
The most notable change on the horizon is the addition of a second school resource officer to the school district. Officer Craig Long with the Vallejo Police Department has been the district’s school resource officer since February, and school and police officials have recently made the move to hire another officer. VCUSD Superintendent Dr. Ramona Bishop and Police Chief Andrew Bidou said they’ve been in talks to do this since before the listening session, where parents voiced their concerns about school safety. Bidou said a new officer is expected in the next few months.
via Vallejo schools to continue programs, add SRO.
By John Glidden
Around 30 people stood up during the public comment session of the Vallejo City Council meeting, signalling that they wished to see a joint meeting between the council and the Vallejo school board.
The topic: school safety.
Local resident Nathan Stout asked the collection of parents and residents to show their support for the proposal, which hasn’t gained much traction after Vallejo City Unified School Board of Education Trustee Burky Worel began asking months ago for such meetings.
“To you the city council,” Stout said. “We may look like a few random individuals who are asking for this joint meeting. Really in truth, many are aware about the serious crisis in this school district.”
Stout said that everyone from students, school staff and parents feel threatened by the lack of security at Vallejo’s schools.
via Speakers call for joint meeting between Vallejo school district, city council.
By Dianne de Guzman
The seventh and eighth graders at the Benicia Police Department’s Youth Academy weren’t exactly solving the crime of the century, but they were certainly taking their task very seriously.
Students were told to solve the mystery of who bit into a chocolate bar, based on “dental records” — teeth impressions made from biting into two pieces of styrofoam plates — and what they could decipher from the bite marks.
Sgt. Kenny Hart showed students what to look for when viewing evidence, during a lesson on crime scene investigations. “The victim was bit twice and they were bit harder on the right side,” Hart said to the group, pointing to an area on the plates with a police flashlight. “(Police) can tell how many times a person was bit.”
via Benicia Youth Academy teaches police tactics, life lessons.
By Susan Hiland
A program born out of the Columbine High School killings more than a decade ago brought a message of inclusiveness Wednesday to children and parents in Fairfield.
Rachel’s Challenge is a series of programs and strategies designed to empower children and motivate educators, according to the organization’s website. The purpose of the programs is to equip children and adults to create and sustain safe, caring and supportive learning environments that are essential for academic achievement.
The programs are based on the writings and life of 17-year-old Rachel Scott, who was the first student killed in 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
via Rachel’s Challenge comes to Anna Kyle Daily Republic.
Times-Herald staff report Posted:
Vallejo police are still searching for suspects in two arson cases last month at a local elementary school, including one that destroyed a playground.
The first fire, set at the school’s south side, did minimal damage. However, the second fire at about 11:25 a.m. May 31 completely engulfed a play structure that had been built only a few years ago.
The blaze destroyed the playground, doing about $10,000 to $15,000 in damage, according to a statement issued by police on Sunday.
The department is asking the public for help in solving the case, encouraging people to call the Vallejo Police Department at 800-488-9383 or the Solano Crime Stoppers at 707-644-STOP. Crime Stoppers offers $1,000 reward for tips that lead to an arrest.
via Vallejo police seek clues in burned playground case – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Evie Blad
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a sweeping gun bill into law this week that will lift many firearms restrictions in bars, churches, and government buildings and under certain conditions when it goes into effect July 1. The new law will also allow a person with written authorization from a public or private school or higher education institution to carry a gun on school property.
State proposals to lift restrictions on concealed carry in schools experienced a surge in popularity as legislatures rushed to shore up school safety plans following the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. An Education Week analysis of more than 450 school safety related bills filed in 2013 legislative sessions found 84 proposals related to arming school employees and 73 proposals related to easing gun restrictions in certain areas, including school grounds.
via Georgia Becomes Latest State to Allow Guns in Schools (With Some Restrictions) – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
By Tony Burchyns
Vallejo young people were urged Wednesday night to show courage in standing up to violence during a peace forum featuring speeches by high school students, the mayor and a police captain.
“Stop the violence is not just a slogan,” Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis told dozens of students during the second night of Solano Community College’s 9th annual Stop the Violence/Peace Summit.
Davis encouraged the crowd of mostly college students and teachers to speak out against violence and crime in their community by sharing information with law enforcement to make their community safer.
via Speakers: Violence ends when people cooperate – Vallejo Times Herald.
Times-Herald staff Posted:
The 9th annual Peace Summit, a 3-day “Stop the Violence” jamboree, gets underway today at the Solano Community College Fairfield and Vallejo campuses.
Stop the Violence Summit starts at 9:30 a.m. in Building 1400 on the Fairfield campus with a panel discussion on “The Impact of Violence,” followed by a “Peace Vigil” and a “Peace Walk” starting at noon at the Clocktower.
Sherie Labedis, civil rights worker, teacher, and author will share excerpts at 1 p.m. from her book “You Came Here to Die, Didn’t You.” That will be followed by a call to action led by Solano College teacher Karen McCord.
via ‘Stop the Violence’ jamboree starts in Vallejo, Fairfield today – Vallejo Times Herald.
After a high school student posted a video suicide note on YouTube, then killed herself early this week, officials from the 101,000-student Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Ky., temporarily shut down school-based access to YouTube and Twitter, prompting renewed attention to the role of social media in responding to school tragedies.
“The safety and security of our students is our number one priority,” said district spokeswoman Mandy Simpson in a statement. Removing access to the sites, Simpson wrote, “was an effort to ensure that students who are emotionally impacted could get the help they needed as we worked with officials to address the situation through the most appropriate and efficient channels.”
Simpson said that 20 grief counselors were dispatched Tuesday to Louisville’s Male High School, and access to the sites was quickly restored.
via Does Your District’s Crisis-Response Plan Include Social Media? – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
Times-Herald staff report Posted:
The 9th annual Peace Summit, a 3-day “Stop the Violence” jamboree, takes place starting Tuesday, April 22-24 on the Solano Community College Fairfield and Vallejo campuses.
The events are free and include guest speakers, walks, a documentary and more. Keynote speaker is Lecia Brooks, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama in its outreach efforts to promote social justice issues.
Stop the Violence Summit starts 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Building 1400 on the Fairfield campus with panel discussion on “The Impact of Violence,” followed by a “Peace Vigil” and a “Peace Walk” starting at noon at the Clocktower.
via Solano College to hold Stop the Violence summit with Vallejo events – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Ryan McCarthy
Two parents had to rush their children from Crystal Middle School to the hospital Thursday and emergency vehicles were at the school Friday to respond to other incidents involving children playing the “Choking Game,” Mayor Pete Sanchez said of the school where police and the director of the NorthBay Trauma Center will speak Tuesday about the dangers of the game.
Sanchez said he was told the children were all right. The game is known by other names that include Chinese Knockout, Space Cowboy and Purple Dragon.
via ‘Choking game’ spurs talks at Crystal Middle School Daily Republic.
By Sarah Rohrs
Rather than throwing the book at them if they commit crimes in their formative years, youth need to be steered into learning, instead, and into a path leading to college rather than prison.
Two congressmen voiced that sentiment Monday during a Town Hall forum held at Jesse Bethel High School. Attended by about 100 teens and other community members, the forum also touched on local violence and crime.
“We can lock up an even greater proportion of the population or take preventive measures early so that they don’t get into trouble in the first place,” said Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia.
via Youth intervention to stem violence focus of Vallejo town hall gathering – Vallejo Times Herald.
By Times-Herald Staff
A 15-year-old male student reportedly seen walking with a gun near Vallejo High School was arrested shortly about 8:20 a.m.. Tuesday, police said.
The gun was reportedly a pellet gun which is identical to a real handgun both in size, weight and appearance, Vallejo Police Lt. Kenny Park indicated in an e-mail to the Times-Herald.
via Male teen, 15, arrested near VHS on suspicion of possessing a pellet gun – Vallejo Times Herald.
By guest blogger Alyssa Morones
A new online campaign is calling on the U.S. Congress to pass a bill that would end the use of corporal punishment in schools.
The petition, from the campaign to Create Safe Schools for Children, is now online on causes.com and focuses on U.S. Representative Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-NY) bill that seeks to ban corporal punishment nationwide.
Rep. McCarthy first introduced the bill in the 111th Congress and again in 2011 in the 112th Congress. Ms. McCarthy, a senior Democratic member of the education and workforce committee, is currently working on a new draft of the bill to introduce to the current 113th Congress.
via Campaign Seeks to End Corporal Punishment in Schools – Rules for Engagement – Education Week.
Dixon Unified Superintendent Brian Dolan has confirmed that a Gretchen Higgins Elementary third grader took five bullets to school this morning. Dolan said the 8-year-old boy had “no intent to threaten or scare or harm anyone.” The child reportedly stole the bullets – a combination of 9 mm and 40 caliber shells – from another relative living in his home and brought them to school to show his friends. “The way this became known was that the boy actually gave one of the bullets to a second boy and that second boy gave his bullet to the teacher,” Dolan said. “I applaud that other student who knew that adults needed to know about this and spoke to his teacher.
via Breaking: Dixon Unified Superintendent… – The Dixon Tribune | Facebook.
By Deon Price
Are our public school grounds beginning to mirror the prison system? Why are law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s Office so involved in the public the school environment? Is it necessary or justified to protect the community and students? Are today’s youth simply more violent and troublesome than those of previous generations?
Here is yet another reason to be thankful if you are over 40. Twenty-five years ago, it was easier to get a driver’s license, get into college or stay in school. On the other hand, it is also a lot easier today to get arrested, suspended or expelled from school.
via School-to-prison pipeline in our community? Daily Republic.
By Esther J. Cepeda
Every once in a while, horrifying violence rocks our national sense of school campus innocence. Its cold comfort, but chances are our local schools staff has been trained to respond in the most effective manner should the unimaginable occur.
As an observer of education trends, I take this for granted. But to people who dont understand the level of preparedness that schools now practice, proposed laws protecting the teachers and staff who have to execute emergency protocols can be alarming and confusing.
via Guest columnist: Training teachers to fight back – The Reporter.