Phoenix Union High School District revisits its school safety plan after shooting

Dec 6, 2021, 4:45 AM
(Facebook photo/Phoenix Union High School District)...
(Facebook photo/Phoenix Union High School District)
(Facebook photo/Phoenix Union High School District)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Union High School District is looking to improve its school safety plan after a shooting last week at one of its high schools.

“We have a plan, and it’s a good time to go back to that and see what’s working and what’s not working,” Superintendent Chad Gestson told governing board members during a meeting Thursday.

The board approved the Next Gen Safety and Security Plan in 2018 and made revisions to it a year later. It includes removing school resource officers from campus and opting for off-duty officers to help with law enforcement matters.

Gestson asked board members to share ways they think the district’s current plan can be improved while stressing that school safety is “extremely complex.”

Phoenix Union Governing Board member Stanford Prescott noted there have been discussions about return-to-school resource officers and adding metal detectors after last week’s school shooting.

“I don’t think that’s the right direction for our school district,” he said. “I think that contributes to a culture of stress.”

Meanwhile, Phoenix Union Governing Board member Stephanie Parra said it’s “so imperative” that school security personnel be part of the discussions to improve the district’s school safety plan.

She stressed they play an important role, especially now that school resource officers are no longer on campus.

“Sometimes it’s the only person that a kid feels like they can go to, it’s their security personnel,” Parra said.

She added security guards are often a school counselor, social worker and therapist to students. Yet, they are not provided the tools and professional development they need to address students’ needs.

Nor does she feel they are paid enough. The starting salary for a security guard at Phoenix Union High School District is $14 to $15 an hour.

“They are struggling,” Parra said of school security personnel. “They are tired. They are overwhelmed. They feel undersupported and undervalued.”

Other governing board members suggested improving services to help students deal with mental health, noting that the pandemic has caused a lot of stress for them.

Gestson said the district is already working on that.

He said the district’s current student-to-counselor ratio is 325 to one, in addition to social workers, psychologists and other support staff. Statewide, the average is about 900 students to every school counselor.

“Our support staff ratio is arguably one of the best in Arizona, but it’s still not enough,” he said.

The governing board did not take any action on the district’s Next Gen Safety and Security Plan during Thursday’s meeting but vowed to continue discussions to improve it.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks to the media after voting on November 08, 2022...

Defeated Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake files election lawsuit

Kari Lake filed a lawsuit Friday claiming the number of illegal votes cast in Arizona's general election outnumber her margin of defeat.
19 hours ago
(Getty Images)...

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema relieved by Brittney Griner’s release from Russian prison

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said she is not in a place to criticize the Brittney Griner-Viktor Bout exchange and is happy Griner is home.
19 hours ago
(Twitter Photo/Abraham Hamadeh)...

Republican Arizona AG candidate Abe Hamadeh files another election lawsuit

Republican Arizona Attorney General candidate Abe Hamadeh filed another election lawsuit Friday, asking for another look on his race.
19 hours ago
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
SuElen Rivera

Maricopa County recorder proposing ways to speed up vote count

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said he planning to propose changes to Arizona election laws that would speed up the vote count.
19 hours ago
A cold and flu medicine shelf is empty in a CVS pharmacy on Dec. 6, 2022, in Burbank, California. (...
Associated Press

Maricopa County health officials warn about spread of flu, COVID, RSV

Arizona's most populous county is warning of a significantly rise in cases of the flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
19 hours ago
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)...
Marcia Hammond

‘Political earthquake’: Arizona experts weigh in on Sen. Sinema jumping ship to independents

Two Arizona political strategists said U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's switch from the Democratic Party to independent status took courage but only time will tell whether it hurts her career.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Phoenix Union High School District revisits its school safety plan after shooting