Two dozen students, teachers and support employees in the Clark County School District rallied at Eldorado High School on Tuesday to call for more accountability from the district about safety protocols they say were not implemented as the school returned for its first day of classes following the violent assault of a teacher on campus earlier this month.
Last week, in response to the attack, the school district announced new protocols and safety measures that included increased police presence in and around district schools and new panic buttons for teachers and staff to reach leadership and first responders from their location, with the new measures to be implemented at Eldorado first.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara also said that district principals would address their respective student bodies and remind them of the student code of conduct that they would be held accountable for upon the return to classes.
But Eldorado students and staff said Tuesday that little to nothing had changed when it came to safety.
The promised cameras in classrooms were not installed, panic buttons had not been given to staff, one point of entry for students had not been enforced and campus security monitor positions were not filled or properly funded, according to Jan Giles, president of the Education Support Employees Association, the union that represents school employees like cafeteria workers and bus drivers in Clark County.
“Without fully funding positions and hiring necessary staff our schools remain vulnerable,” Giles said Tuesday in a statement. “We need funding and staffing now.”
Some teachers across the district began raising questions about the proposed safety measures ahead of the start of classes Tuesday and whether they would be available to teachers before the end of the school year. The district did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the timing of the rollout of the panic buttons.
On Tuesday morning, Eldorado students streamed into the school’s main entrance off of Linn Lane with police vehicles posted around campus.
Several students told the Review-Journal that they were not addressed by their principal about the incident or briefed on the student code of conduct.
In an email sent to students before the start of classes, Eldorado High School Principal Christina Brockett said there would be additional support from counselors and social workers on campus for students and staff. Brockett also said that additional security personnel would be present on campus and that students would be directed to leave school immediately at the end of the school day.
But several students told the Review-Journal they felt there had been a lack of communication about the incident.
“They’re putting up posters saying ‘Stay safe at school,’ or ‘This is a safe place,’ like that’s going to help,” Eldorado freshman Rylee Montez said. “I don’t feel safe here at all anymore. I really don’t.”
CCSD, the fifth-largest school district in the country, has seen 5,700 calls for service regarding fights, batteries or assaults and 1,300 combined incidents where arrests and citations had been issued on school campuses since the beginning of the school year.
But students said that, while the attack on the teacher left them shocked, the recent reports about widespread violence across the district wasn’t consistent with their experience at Eldorado. Senior Omaree Van-Dyke said he felt the school’s culture had only continued to improve during his time at the school.
On the first day back Tuesday, Van-Dyke said he noticed the increased security, but felt that the slight changes implemented by the district weren’t what was needed to address the problems in the wake of the attack. At lunch, Van-Dyke said he began rallying students to sign pledges committing themselves to non-violence.
“I’m not really sure how that’s going to work out, but coming back, for me…I just wanted to get to work,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure I was doing my best to try and make change as well.”
Verran Tucker, a campus monitor and coach at Eldorado, said the community was still in shock in the wake of the attack. He said that while statistically Eldorado has ranked high in the district for violent incidents, he never expected an attack against a teacher to happen at the school.
Tucker asked Tuesday for more funding for schools to fill staff shortages and for district officials to listen to school communities about their individual needs.
“Our staff and student safety should be a priority,” Tucker said. “We need some urgency…just a little bit of urgency.”
Contact Lorraine Longhi at email@example.com. Follow @lolonghi on Twitter.