SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- About 500 people turned out for a school safety community forum for the Poway Unified School District Tuesday night.
Poway Unified School District put on the event so parents could learn what the district is doing to address and school and student safety. The district asked parents to send in questions ahead of the forum. The forum, held at the Mt. Carmel High School Performing Arts Center on Carmel Mountain Road (map below).
“In recent past couple weeks, San Diego schools have been inundated with threats. huge waste- prevent learn- gotten discussion and discourse going where school safety is once again a priority in terms of discussion for this community,” Christine Park, with Poway Unified told 10News.
The mayor and the San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore were also at the forum.
Marly Franke sent in several questions about emergency protocols, security cameras on campuses as well as what training is available for teachers and students.
“I think this is hopefully the beginning of a more open communication forum,” she said, “I think in the past schools make decisions more unilaterally, and we have to involve the community when it comes to children safety.”
The forum comes on the same day the district launched a hotline for to report school threats and the school district announced it earmarked $5-million in its new budget for school safety and security.
Messages left on the Poway hotline will be monitored around the clock by the Poway Sheriff’s Station. Callers can remain anonymous.
POWAY SCHOOL THREAT HOTLINE
The forum comes in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Poway held their meeting one night after the Sweetwater Union High School District held a school safety forum in Chula Vista.
Distinguishing between credible / non-credible threats
“One of the things that came up a lot, is how do you determine what’s a credible and not credible threat?” Superintendent Marian Kim-Phelps said.
But, she said that’s a question they can’t answer.
“The police officers when we talk to them and ask, ‘how do we address this question when our parents ask?' Kim-Phelps said. "They say, ‘we can’t really say, because we don’t want to educate or teach the bad people out there how to make something look like its credible when it’s not."
Kim-Phelps made it clear to parents how the district felt about letting guns into the classroom.
“We got an applause from the whole auditorium when we said, ‘no,’” she said, “Because we’re going to leave the firearms to those who are trained to carry those.”
Parents also asked about backpack searches and the metal detectors on campus.
Kim-Phelps said backpack searches were illegal without cause, and after talking with law enforcement, the district felt metal detectors would be ineffective in preventing attacks.
Flow of information when threats are made
Many parents were also concerned about the flow of information when threats are made. The district explained that sometimes it takes time to verify facts, and they won’t relay information to the public unless the details are confirmed.