Grand Jury investigates safety of Nevada County schools | TheUnion.com

Grand Jury investigates safety of Nevada County schools

The Union staff

The Nevada County Grand Jury on Thursday morning released a report "Safety and Security at Nevada County Schools."

According to a news release, the report is "a product of physical inspection, research, numerous interviews and extensive discussion. Our obvious conclusion is that there is no off-the-shelf prescription. If we are to make improvements, and we must, they will undoubtedly be incremental and probably hard-won."

In a long list of findings, the Grand Jury said a recent actual school lockdown response activity, several reports indicated "substantial confusion between all parties involved, thus creating overreaction, rumors, and some degree of panic that tied up the school phone systems. The difficulty in controlling social media was cited as the chief reason this occurred."

Among other recommendations, the Grand Jury says the "Nevada County Superintendent of Schools should coordinate with school districts, law enforcement, parents and guardians, and students in the development of a highly summarized parents' guide on what to do and not do when a lockdown or other emergency happens.

"This guide should contain uniform instructions that are generic to all schools. Additionally, each school should add instructions that are site specific to their school location and circumstances and distribute to teachers, parents and guardians, and high school students at the beginning of the year and each semester thereafter."

The Jury visited 16 of the 42 schools in Nevada County (38 percent) to see if there were safety programs in place, what they included, and what their feelings were about safety policies already in place. The Jury contacted the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office to find out what part it played in overseeing implementation of safety policies.

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During the school surveys, the Jury compiled observations from various individual school sites, several of which raised safety concerns within the Jury.

"Our message is one of unity within the community," the release states. "We cannot afford to let the conversation implode into political sound bites. There is work to be done and improvements to be made. But the most lasting and valuable improvement is in the development and awareness of mutual responsibilities and in communicating and exercising those responsibilities.

"Should the unthinkable ever manifest itself in this county, it will be the simple, incremental and collective improvements made by the people of this county that will yield the most profound outcome."

Read the full report at TheUnion.com.