Education Matters: learning from school shootings


FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Since the Columbine tragedy in 1999, there have been more than 220 school shootings, killing 144 people and injuring more than 300, according to research by the Washington Post.

After the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools held it’s second safety meeting in Downtown Fresno, educators and law enforcement discovered that school shootings can be prevented.

“You pray that it doesn’t happen but you do in some cases take a not if but when stand around it and be as adequately prepared as you can,” explained Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson.

This is the second year the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools has brought law enforcement, schools, and hospitals together in one room. FBI Assistant Special Agent Robert Tripp feels that there are solutions.

“We cannot predict school shootings but we do have the ability to prevent them,” said Tripp.

The Columbine High School Massacre and the school shootings that have followed have given law enforcement and mental health professionals a road map to prevention.

“What are the key indicators, what are students exhibiting,” said Assistant Superintendent Hank Gutierrez, with Fresno County Superintendent of Schools.

“Do we need to listen to them and actually help them instead of being punitive?”

Gutierrez says being pro-active and addressing the mental health issues of students is why the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools is placing trained behavioral therapist on every school campus

“We are coming at this from a preventative aspect, where now our administrators are going to have protocols. They are going to have teams in place with the help of local law enforcement they can go in and help a child maybe deal with some issues that they are having.”

Gutierrez says the county office is preparing to take the next step in school safety by establishing behavioral threat assessment teams in every school district, including parochial schools and community colleges.

“I think the crucial thing here is that school shootings can be to some degree preventable and you prevent them by knowing what’s going on with our kids.”

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