School safety paramount for OCPS' Superintendent
Posted on 01/23/2023
Mondays with Maria Banner



Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hello, I'm Maria Vazquez, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools.

Nancy Alvarez: Hi everyone. I'm Nancy Alvarez and I'm back with our Superintendent for this week's Monday's with Maria. So, Dr. Vazquez, there has been, of course, some increased concerns around safety and sporting events on school campuses. We're just a couple of weeks into the new year, and so many parents are stressing about this.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Absolutely. And those concerns are understandable after two recent incidents after high school's sporting events, I want everyone to know the district is working very closely with our local law enforcement partners in the investigation to get to the bottom of what occurred. And that I am personally taking part in the review of the safety procedures so that as needed, safety enhancements are continually being looked at and changes are made. Safety always comes first.

Nancy Alvarez: So as a parent, you know, obviously it's, it's hard to hear when someone is hurt on a school campus, particularly in an act of violence with a weapon. It's so frustrating because we talk about it all the time and it just keeps happening.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: And that's a big part of the conversation, how to best protect everyone on our campuses when we host a public event. It certainly changes a dynamic when anyone can buy a ticket and attend. But I do want to be very clear that this incident happened after the event was over, and most people had left the event already, but it is still very concerning. Yeah.

Nancy Alvarez: So moving forward, what can we all do? This is just a school issue. Gun violence is happening in our neighborhoods, as we know in our communities, and we can all participate in finding solutions.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: You're absolutely correct. In our schools, we are constantly reminding parents and guardians to check backpacks for anything that is prohibited on any of our school campuses. And I would say that this can become a standard practice in your home, even before your child leaves to attend school or to attend a sporting event.

Nancy Alvarez: So, because you have items of course, that are prohibited from games, and it's important that parents know what those are. So as you said, they can check as well.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Correct. Um, there are no backpacks or large bags that are allowed, no tobacco products, no outside food or drink. And even beyond that, there are absolutely no weapons allowed and no loitering on school property after an event has ended.

Nancy Alvarez: So what about security, law enforcement at games? We see the presence there. Mm-hmm. but is it increased now? Can you talk about that?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Sure. If you've ever attended one of our sporting events, uh, across the district, you know that that's a norm. We have law enforcement on our campuses. What we can't do is get into the specific details or any of the enhancements surrounding our security protocols, because that would really make us vulnerable. It is very important to me that everyone know that we have a group of talented people, uh, working with our nine law enforcement agencies to make sure that we are providing a safe environment for everyone. .For students, for staff, for parents, and for community members that are attending a public event or are visiting our schools for any reason.

Nancy Alvarez: This has really been a, a great conversation. Thank you so much for being, you know, proactive and opening up about it. As a parent in this district, and knowing you and your commitment, it certainly feels better and it's certainly a conversation that we're gonna keep going.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Thank you all for watching. If you have anything to share on this topic or any topic, please visit our Thought Exchange platform. The link is right there on the screen, and I look forward to seeing you again next week on Mondays with Maria.