ENCINITAS – After several incidents at district schools this month, including an incident resulting in La Costa Canyon students returning to at-home learning for a day, the San Dieguito Union High School District school board is considering options to curb threats of violence on social media.
During a special board meeting this week, Trustee Michael Allman and Board President Maureen “Mo” Muir strongly encouraged a motion to bring back options to the board that included a zero-tolerance policy for certain acts.
However, the motion failed 3-2, with Muir and Allman in support.
Allman said the proposed policy would call for students guilty of certain violent or threatening offenses, which normally would be subject to expulsion pending a case-by-case review, to be automatically expelled from the district.
Trustee Julie Bronstein, the newest school board member, whose children are students in the school district, said she does not want the board to be instilling more fear into the community.
“I feel our schools are safe,” Bronstein said. “And I am firmly committed to ensuring that they continue to be safe and that anything we can do to enhance the safety I am 100% on board for and also that we do it in a collaborative way. I really feel it’s important that we are inspiring confidence in our community. That we are not creating a feeling of fear and panic but rather that our schools are safe havens for our students.”
As you head back to work or school, please remember that posting a threat on social media is a serious situation with real-world consequences. Hoax threats are never “just a joke.” Watch the FBI San Diego #ThinkBeforeYouPost PSA. pic.twitter.com/GmgNwxydun
— FBI San Diego (@FBISanDiego) January 8, 2020
Allman’s brought the motion regarding a zero-tolerance policy and expressed his belief that not exploring all of the possible options would be a failure of the entire board.
“This isn’t adopting anything in particular, this is asking for some alternatives to be brought back to the board,” Allman said. “And I think it would be a dereliction of our duty as board trustees not to at least consider options.”
The special meeting was called Tuesday morning by Muir following an increase in social media posts both locally and nationally on the social media platform Tik Tok threatening violence in schools. The trend caused some school districts across the country to keep their students home last Friday.
The school board passed a resolution just last week reaffirming its commitment to student safety following both the incident at La Costa Canyon High School and a school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan last month.
The meeting was held at 10 a.m. which left some parents, teachers and administrators out of the discussion.
The board did pass a motion for Superintendent Dr. Cheryl James-Ward to return to the board at its next regular meeting with several reports regarding the district’s communication and handling of incidents of violence.
“That’s really our superintendent talking to our counselors and getting back to us specifically on if we are fully meeting the needs of our students, is there anything we can do in addition and what does that look like,” Trustee Melisse Mossy said. “What do our counselors feel is missing in this ever-changing world where social media is taking over our schools.”
Ward said the district has already been working to improve its communication.
“Right now we have increased our communication,” Ward said. “We are providing as much information as we can within the letter of the law.”