Rialto Unified hosts series of Safe Schools Forums

Photo David Phillips: Parents/guardians' concerns over student safety were addressed during the Safe School Forum last Thursday. The next forum will take place at Rialto High on March 12, 6 - 8 p.m.
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Rialto Unified School District held its second Safe Schools Forum at Eisenhower High School on Thursday, Feb. 21. The forum was Live Streamed on the Rialto Unified School District Facebook Page where questions were taken in many different forms. Questions were taken from people in the audience as well as through making comments on the Facebook Live Stream and by direct messaging the Rialto Unified School District page.

Questions ranged on various topics related to school safety and the safety to and around the school areas. Main questions that kept coming up were traffic/vehicle safety, bullying, drug use and concerns over Special Education. The panel was made up of ASB Student President, Rialto Police officials, principals from elementary/middle/high schools, Chief of School Safety and officials from the student wellness department.

The most common question at the Eisenhower High School Forum was Special Education. Not all of the Special Education questions were of a safety nature. For example, one parent asked why their child who was on an IEP (individual education plan) received the same homework as a regular education student. Dr. Mitzi Moreland, Principal at Henry Elementary School, helped the parent understand what may be happening and gave her tools to help rectify any possible problems with her school’s principal. Chief Leary said that Special Ed was included in the forum because the goal is to look at the social and emotional needs of students and the development of on-site wellness centers.

Issues with bullying did come up a lot as parents struggled to see what was being done about kids who target other kids. Lead Agent Angela Brantley told parents that every complaint of bullying is taken seriously and investigated to get to the root cause of the problem and to determine if it is bullying. She used the example of a student taking a ball away from another and looking at if that would be considered bullying or just a teachable moment. Mrs. Brantley did reassure the audience that every complaint is taken seriously and looked into by site administration and staff.

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Another portion of the forum that stood out was Rialto Unified School District Safety Chief Gordon Leary who spoke about a parent request for more cameras on Eisenhower Campus. Chief Gordon stated that student safety needs are to be addressed by everyone involved and not just relying on cameras and security staff to solve all of the problems.

These meetings were established after School Safety Chief Gordon Leary attended a couple PTA meetings and began to see a need to address safety concerns. Chief Leary said.

“These meetings have confirmed what we already knew – that parent involvement is key to successful school safety,” Chief Leary said.

The next step after these forums is to develop more intimate roundtables to address problems on a more personal scale.

The first forum was held at Carter High School and the second at Eisenhower High School. The third and final Safe Schools Forum will take place at Rialto High School on March 12th from 6 pm to 8 pm. You can also watch the forum on Facebook live at www.facebook.com/rialtounified.

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