Several school safety pilot projects to go to bid for Newport-Mesa Unified campuses

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District Education Center building.
(Sara Cardine)

A series of school safety task force meetings organized by the Newport-Mesa Unified School District concluded this month, with members of that panel having officially established a timeline for the implementation of a plan to shore up safety measures.

Earlier this year, district officials conducted a series of workshops to understand the concerns of community members regarding security and safety on campuses. The task force subsequently established was comprised of district staff, principals, secondary principals, teachers, classified staff, parents, students, school resource officers and fire marshals.

The group first met in August and held monthly meetings since, according to director of student and community services Sarah Coley.

In a presentation to the school board earlier this month, Coley reviewed the timeline for the implementation of the plan, which will include five phases that began this fall and will continue through the start of the 2023-24 school year.

“We really felt it was important and a commitment that we made to this task force that this work was really following a timeline and we were able to set benchmarks for the work that we were doing,” Coley said.

The first phase, which is already underway, focused on updating existing standard response protocol training and a comprehensive school safety plan, threat assessment training and physical site assessments. In January, district officials will look at some of the recommendations for physical installations to increase security.

The third phase, which is expected to take place over the summer, will deal with additional training and identifying which of those security measures should be considered. The fourth phase will be implementing projects approved by the board ahead of the start of the following school year. The final phase will see additional standard response protocol training and site-specific lockdown training.

Coley said that as of this month, roughly 2,000 teachers and staff have been trained in the “I Love U Guys” standard response protocols, initially piloted in some campuses prior to the pandemic.

“We felt this was really important to make sure that we have common language so that everybody knows the actions that need to be taken in different situations and every person who’s on our school sites is trained in these actions,” Coley said.

Also in the pipeline are a number of pilot projects, including the implementation of the Centegix CrisisAlert system, which will be installed at Newport Harbor High School and Davis Magnet School this winter. The system utilizes two mechanisms — for staff individually or campuswide.

District staff will also be looking at standardizing existing electronic security system at the urging of parents to install more cameras around campuses. A bidding process is expected to open this winter for that, to provide additional lobby security. The district’s plans for a standardized tip line is also expected to be before the school board for approval in December.

“We’ve not made any big commitments at this point. We’re really looking to see ‘will this fill a need?’ and ‘is it something we feel is absolutely necessary to the work that we’re doing?’” Coley said.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.