Safety

What is the biggest safety gap in Spokane Public Schools? Do you think school resource officers should be armed?

The most pressing safety concern at the moment is clear. The teachers, paraeducators, and support staging at our schools are struggling to keep themselves and their students safe from injury everyday. The current “clear the room” policy isn’t working and our district can’t succeed at meeting the challenges our students/families face if we don’t invest in the staffing and resources they need.

The evidence is very clear about what makes schools safer for students and staff: more resources and staff for helping students (and their families overcome barriers). There isn’t any evidence supporting the argument that armed school staff make schools safer. While I do support building on our relationship with Spokane Police and creating clear policies for when an armed response is necessary, I don’t support arming our school resource officers. Beyond that, I recognize that our students face a far greater risk of being injured by a gun away from the school, so I will advocate for an age-appropriate gun safety and suicide prevention curriculum.

There has been discussion about arming Campus Resource Officers (CROs) as a part of a comprehensive safety plan for the Spokane school district. Yes or no, do you support arming CROs? Why? Why not?

No, at this point the district lacks the financial resources, qualified staffing, and quality of hiring processes needed to arm CROs. Beyond that, I’ve found little evidence that arming even qualified staff results in a reduction of violence or significantly improves the outcomes of violent encounters when they occur.

What are your 3 top priorities for your 1st year in office?

  1. Our schools just experienced major changes in staffing and I think it’s important to touch base with each school to make sure that they have the resources and staffing to be successful, to address issues that are becoming apparent, and to plan for future staffing/resource needs based on feedback.
  2. Developed a clear policy for ensuring staffing, resources, training, and physical space to implement the Restorative Discipline policies effectively.
  3. Ensure recommendations from the Safe Haven report that can be implemented quickly are completed, prioritize and plan for implementing additional safety improvements based on: budgeting, considering the cost/effectiveness of each recommendation, and feedback from the community.

What changes, if any, would you seek in the security system for the schools? Do you favor having armed security personnel in the schools?

Improve Line-of-site, add additional security cameras, add sensors on exterior doors, improve the visitor screening process, ensure adequate maintenance staffing, and update emergency plans/policies. I am not in favor of arming CROs. I’ve found little evidence that arming school staff improves safety or reduces rates of violence at schools. In addition, the decision to arm CROs is a costly one which would require significant policy changes, and improved hiring process. The report noted our district has a strong relationship with the local police and made recommendations that SPS develop and practice emergency response plans when students are not present. This seems like a more cost-effective approach and ensures students do not feel “policed” by arm school staff.

Is the District’s policy regarding discipline of students fair? Does the District administer student discipline fairly and appropriately?

The district has been working hard to improve the discipline policy and the equity of how it is applied. They are likely to approve revisions to the discipline policy in upcoming meetings and I appreciate their focus on restorative discipline and behavioral interventions. Unfortunately, the challenge to effective discipline policies is ensuring each school has enough staffing, physical space, and tools to actually apply the policies well. I believe all schools and staff try to administer discipline fairly and appropriately, but are often lacking in the staffing and resources to meet the needs of students.

If elected to the Spokane Public Schools board of directors, how would you work to foster safety at all schools? More specifically, I’d like to hear your views on the ENTIRE Safe Havens report – not just the issue of arming resource officers and/or teachers, but its other observations.

The Safe Haven report will be a useful tool in developing better safety measures and practices in the district. I will work to make sure suggested improvements to policies, emergency response plans, and staff training at each school are completed as quickly as possible. This includes working with local police to ensure clear and effective armed response policies are in place for situations when an armed response is appropriate.

There are many areas for improvement to the school infrastructure like exterior door sensors, improving line-of-sight, additional surveillance cameras, and updating signage that will need consideration. Schools with the highest need for infrastructure improvements should be prioritized, and consideration should be taken regarding budget constraints and cost effectiveness. 

The report repeatedly highlighted the effectiveness of natural surveillance, regular maintenance of building and equipment, and improved entry procedures. All of these require ample staffing. Improving policies, procedures, and building technologies will help staff keep students safer and better able to respond to emergencies. However, if schools are understaffed, undertrained, or don’t have enough resources, it will interfere with all of the other investments the district makes.

I will advocate for safety review and reporting policies that consider the barriers a school may have when it comes to successfully implementing restorative discipline or safety measures and include strategies for addressing those barriers. When the barriers are driven by lack of resources and staffing, I will fight for schools to have the staffing and resources they need to meet their individual challenges.

What other preemptive measures (social-emotional learning, MTSS. etc.) might schools employ to keep children and staffers safe?

The district is already implementing social-emotional learning curriculum. This is an effective way for teachers to connect with students and to reduce suspensions and expulsions. I also believe each school in the district should also have a Behavioral Intervention classroom and implement effective early interventions to support families and students when they are struggling, and before behavior issues escalate. This ensures schools have the capacity to succeed at reducing suspensions/expulsions without risking the safety of other students.

I believe the staff would benefit from regular training and practice in the management of aggressive behavior. Knowledge in how to identify aggressive behavior early and in safe ways to de-escalate will help staff prevent behavior from becoming a risk to the safety of others. Regularly practicing response policy with de-escalation scenarios and self-defense techniques appropriate for different kinds of aggressors would help staff feel more confident responding to students who are struggling and to other potential safety threats.

Who is responsible for a child, the parents or the State? Why?

Parents are primarily responsible for their children. However, there are times when biological parents can’t or won’t be responsible for their children, so it’s also important that resources are available for families in need and that those children are provided for. In that way, the state does also have some responsibility for ensuring the wellbeing of children.

Fuse Endorses Erin Georgen and Adds Her to the Progressive Voters Guide

Fuse has endorsed Erin Georgen for Spokane School Director, Position 4. You can see what Fuse wrote about her below or on Fuse’s Progressive Voters Guide website.

Below is the information featured on the Progressive Voters Guide.

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