ARIZONA NEWS

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.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

(Arizona State Parks and Trails Photo)...
Associated Press

Hiker dies after falling hundreds of feet in Superstition Mountains

A hiker camping on a peak in the Superstition Mountains east of metro Phoenix was found dead after apparently slipping while taking a photo and falling hundreds of feet, authorities said.
13 hours ago
(AP Photo/Susan Haigh, File)...
Danny Shapiro

Arizona passes $1 billion in total event wagering in third month of operation

It took Arizona just three months to clear $1 billion in total event wagering, according to a report released Tuesday from the state's gaming department.
13 hours ago
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)...
Jim Cross

Arizona’s nation-leading home prices should slow down in 2023, economist says

Even though Arizona has topped the nation in home prices for 30 straight months, there are signs of relief, a Valley economist said.
13 hours ago
Empty shelves were found at a Kroger grocery store on March 13, 2020, in Grosse Ile, Michigan. Some...
KTAR.com

Arizona’s COVID-19 pandemic began with single case 2 years ago Wednesday

Two years ago Wednesday, Arizona reported its first confirmed case of what is now known as COVID-19.
13 hours ago
A group of people from Haiti stand at a gap in the U.S.-Mexico border wall after having traveled fr...
Kevin Stone

Border Patrol union leader says morale ‘in the tank’ after trying year

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said agent morale is “in the tank” after a year in which the number of migrant encounters soared.
13 hours ago
(File Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)...
KTAR.com

Pop-up clinic in Phoenix on Saturday to have free COVID-19 tests, vaccines and protective gear

A pop-up clinic in Phoenix on Saturday will have free COVID-19 tests and vaccines, as well as protective gear to help curb the spread of the virus.
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Arizona State University

This is the best year to get your MBA

Getting a master’s degree is a major commitment of time, energy, and money, so returning to school — even if you’re thinking about a part-time program that allows you to keep working — is one of the biggest decisions of your career.
...
ENVOQUE MD

Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
Phoenix Union High School District revisits its school safety plan after shooting