Leadership magazine Sept/Oct 2018 V48 No. 1 - Page 12

Lessons learned from a high school shooting A 1992 shooting at a Northern California high school opened district leader’s eyes to the aftermath of violence. 12 Leadership As leaders of a district of eleven thousand students in one of the poorest counties in California, we were committed to creating a learning environment where each student,no matter their background, experienced positive learning. Blessed with a talented staff, we had instituted model programs and were recognized for inno- vation. As we gathered in a small meeting room in May 1992 for another strategy ses- sion, the wall phone rang. When answered, a frantic voice said that there was a shooting at Lindhurst High School. Little did we re- alize the extent of the tragic unfolding, it’s impact on our community, the staff and us. Three students and a teacher were shot and killed, more than a dozen injured and 80 held hostage for 8 hours. For decades we have not said much about the impact and aftermath of this evil drama; nor have we been asked to share our experi- ence and how it could prevent similar trag- edies and help for others. When the school shooting in Florida occurred this past Feb- ruary, it was the final emotional straw. We can no longer be silent. We must revisit our experience, as painful as it is, and bring it into the open in hopes of creating sensible dialogue and reflection about school safety; and we must add our voices to those of the students who are so eloquently calling for change. LESSONS LEARNED ABOUT SCHOOL READINESS School Safety Schools can no longer take safety for granted. Each school must concentrate on safety in multiple ways. An example of read- iness was the Lindhurst principal who was a stickler for organizational details: the staff and students knew their roles and safety procedures were practiced throughout the school year via reminders and drills. Though the school was ready for fires or flooding, no one imagined a gunman would enter the school and kill and wound students and By Pete Pillsbury and Dick Loveall