Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 16
Non-Fatal School Shootings Traumatize Too, Teacher Says
signed into law as part of a spending bill after the Parkland shootings,
includes funds for reporting systems,
threat assessment, and training students about the importance of violence prevention.
Los Angeles Unified announced
plans March 1 to form a school safety
task force that includes parents,
teachers, and support staff.
And Los Angeles City Attorney
Mike Feuer said he plans to form a
blue ribbon panel that will hold a
series of public hearings before releasing a report over the summer,
the district said in a letter to parents. LAUSD also reminded parents
of existing safety procedures and
called on them to ensure their firearms are securely stored away from
Parkland shooting has been on divisive issues like gun laws, she believes
there are smaller, easier changes
schools can make right away to ensure safety, like evaluating practices
such as random searches to make
sure they are effective. Educators
can also work to change the culture of
schools so students feel comfortable
reporting safety concerns about their
peers, Zelsdorf said.
"No one has to vote on those
things," she said.
Salvador Castro Middle School enrolls 345 students, nearly all of them
Hispanic and nearly all of them lowincome. Many students carry pain
with them from traumatic experiences before they immigrated to the
United States, Zelsdorf said. And
many face exposure to gang violence,
outside of school.
And now the trauma was in their
Gun incidents in schools are painful, overwhelming experiences for
students, even if no one dies, Zelsdorf
said. And regardless of the student's
intention, she had access to a loaded
gun, she decided to bring it to school,
and she made it into a classroom
with the firearm undetected.
What Happened That Day
On Feb. 1, students were working
independently in Zelsdorf's first period, 7th grade science class, when a
student sitting right in front of where
she stood asked for a worksheet.
"It's really quiet," a girl said as students continued to work.
"Right at that moment, there was
an explosion," Zelsdorf said. "It was
She felt something smack her forehead.
"In that instant, I was thinking,
what was that?" she said. "It was the
loudest thing I had ever heard."
She sized up the situation in a matter of seconds, but explaining what
she saw could take an hour to unpack:
The boy who had taken the worksheet
was bleeding from the forehead. About
four desks away, a girl was bleeding
from the wrist. Students started to
scream as they saw the blood.
A teacher ran in from next door,
putting pressure on the girl's wrist to
stop the bleeding as Zelsdorf rushed
her students into his classroom, she
said. The wounded girl said she believed a classmate sitting next to
her had a gun. That classmate had
evacuated into the other classroom
with her peers, apparently bringing
the gun with her. She stood silently
in the back of the room as a school
police officer from Belmont High
School, which shares a campus with
the middle school, came to take her
Police said the gun fired one bullet
from inside a backpack that traveled
through the girl's wrist before striking her classmate in the head. Two
other students and Zelsdorf had more
minor injuries, like abrasion wounds.
The school went on lockdown as
a precautionary measure as officers
ensured that no other students had
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Elizabeth Acevedo and her son Andres, 3, wait for news of her son, Jose, an 8th grader at Salvador Castro Middle School in
Los Angeles, after a shooting inside the school on Feb. 1. A 12-year-old girl was arrested in the incident.
It wasn't until Zelsdorf later returned to her room that she really
grasped the extent of what had happened. The worksheet she had given
the boy, the one who was injured, still
sat where he left it.
"He had circled maybe one word,"
Zelsdorf said. "There was a pool of
blood on the desk, there was blood
on the walls, there was blood everywhere."
Close to her family, Zelsdorf trades
text messages with her mother regularly. The day the gun went off, she
was so shaken that she couldn't figure out how to word the message she
kept trying to type into her phone
letting her know what had happened.
"You go to the airport and you know
that no one is bringing a gun on the
airplane," she said. "You can't even
bring a water bottle through."
Prosecutors later charged the girl
who brought the gun with two felonies: being a minor in possession of
a firearm, and possessing a firearm
on school grounds. It's unclear exactly how the gun went off, where
the student got it, and why she
brought it to school.
Some students, talking with local
news reporters that day, speculated
she was preparing to show it off to
her peers. A spokeswoman for the
Los Angeles Unified School District
would not answer questions about
the student's disciplinary status, citing federal privacy laws.
The incident sparked some immediate conversations about school
safety in Los Angeles, conversations
that later intensified in that district
and in districts around the country
after the Florida shooting.
Within hours of the Salvador Castro Middle School incident, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times
called for the district to examine
whether its policy of random searches
for weapons is effective at detecting
16 | EDUCATION WEEK | April 25, 2018 | www.edweek.org
weapons in students' bags and deterring them from bringing them to
school in the first place. Among the
paper's concerns: Are the searches
being performed consistently? And
are any students being unfairly
singled out? Was the incident proof
that the district needed to do more
searches? Or that the searches aren't
effective in the first place?
National civil rights groups have
said equipment like metal detectors
and practices like random searches
can build a sense of distrust among
students, particularly students of
color, and school staff. But parents
and schools often believe such measures are necessary to keep weapons
out of schools.
"The shame of the matter is that
no one really knows because, despite
years of challenges to the random
searches (known as "wanding"), the
district still hasn't taken a comprehensive look at whether its policy
is effective," the Los Angeles Times
editorial said. "Nor has it examined
whether other forms of violence
protection might be just as effective
without the intrusiveness that fosters a culture of mistrust between
students and school staff."
Such searches have fallen out of
favor in many schools, the most recent federal data show. In 2015-16,
4.5 percent of U.S. public schools reported random metal detector checks,
compared to 7.2 percent of schools in
1999-2000. And that decline happened as the use of other security
measures, like controlled entrances
and security cameras, increased.
Overall, crime and school safety issues have decreased in recent years,
the data show. But still, 6 percent of
public high schools and 2.6 percent of
public middle schools reported taking
a "serious disciplinary action" against
a student for "use or possession of a
firearm or explosive device" in 201516, according to the federal data. In
2015, about 4 percent of students in
grades 9-12 responding to a federal
survey reported carrying a weapon
"such as a gun, knife, or club" on school
property in the previous 30 days, and
4.2 percent of students ages 12-18 reported "having access to a loaded gun,
without adult permission."
Beyond physical safety measures, Zelsdorf wants schools to
encourage students to tell adults if
they think their peers may have a
weapon or may be intent on harming others. And she wants them to
make that process easy, accessible,
and as routine and well known as
what they practice in regular safety
drills. Los Angeles Unified has
a safety tip hotline, but Zelsdorf
said she wasn't aware of it. She's
heard rumors some students may
have known their classmate had a
gun at school that day, but middle
school students can be leery about
reporting their peers, she said.
"The culture at the school is that
kids are very afraid to tell on each
other," Zelsdorf said. "None of them
wanted to say that there was a gun."
Her concerns fit within a larger
school safety conversation that has
unfolded since the 2012 shooting at
Sandy Hook Elementary School in
Newtown, Conn. Some family members of that tragedy started Sandy
Hook Promise, an advocacy organization that pushes for gun violence
Its "Say Something" program
brings training and workshops to
schools to teach students the importance of reporting safety concerns-
the group cites a federal report that
shows mass shooters often "leak"
their intentions by telling friends
and family members of their plans in
advance. The organization recently
launched a free threat-reporting system it is rolling out in partnership
with school districts.
And the Stop School Violence Act,
which President Donald Trump
Teaching Through Trauma
After the incident at Salvador Castro Middle School, LAUSD held an
emergency meeting with the school's
staff. The district brought in an emergency response team including counselors, who met with students who'd
been affected, said Pia Escudero, the
district's director of mental health.
LAUSD has a network of 50
student-wellness centers located
throughout the district that provide health care and mental health
care to students, she said. The
wellness center at Belmont High
School, which shares a campus
with Salvador Castro, has seen a
surge of referrals from students
who'd been in the school that day
and from students in other schools
in the area, Escudero said. For
some, the school safety concerns
triggered memories of previous incidents in their own lives.
"Mostly, our children are exposed
to community violence," she said. "If
they have experience with violence, it
happens in the neighborhood."
Mental-health experts say exposure to traumatic experiences can affect children's brain development and
life trajectories, but the influence of
concerned and supportive adults can
help counteract those effects.
Zelsdorf wants all teachers to have
more training in how to support students who've experienced trauma, including the more normalized trauma
many of her students have experienced outside of school.
"It should be as regular as training
for CPR," she said.
When she returned to school, her
classes had been moved to a new
room, but the desks were arranged
the same as they had been.
As he found a new seat, one of her
students said he wanted to sit in the
back of the room, so he "wouldn't get
shot." It was a reminder of how the
experience had affected him.
Returning to the classroom was difficult-both for the students and for
their teacher, Zelsdorf said. And healing from such an experience is not
something she knows how to model
for the children she teaches.
"It was definitely scary to be back
in the classroom," she said. "You want
to be able to keep them safe, but I
couldn't have done anything to make
the gun not go off in the classroom."
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 25, 2018
Education Week - April 25, 2018
Facing Hard Facts on College and Career
School Choice Proves Scarce in ESSA Plans
After a Shooting in Her Classroom, Teacher Re-evaluates School Safety
Pension Woes Have Teachers On Front Lines
News in Brief
Discipline Gaps—and Ways to Close Them —Get Scrutiny
Parents Lash Out at District Over Shooting
Arizona Teachers Set to Strike Over School Funding and Pay
Schools With Confederate Ties Slowly Shed Their Names
U.S. Students Surprise on New Exam Of Online Reading
NAEP: Gaps Widen Between High Fliers And Low Scorers
Ed. Dept. Policing ESSA Assessment Rule On Special Education
Federal Special Ed. Chief Aims to Foster Partnership
School Shootings Reverberate On Capitol Hill
Ian Rowe: What NAEP Scores Aren’t Telling Us
In Conversation John Urschel: From the NFL to MIT
Rebecca Kolins Givan & Pamela Whitefield: Teacher Pay Isn’t the Whole Story
Thomas Toch: 35 Years After ‘A Nation at Risk,’ Education Is Still Going in the Wrong Direction
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Pension Woes Have Teachers On Front Lines
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 2
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Contents
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Report Roundup
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 5
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Discipline Gaps—and Ways to Close Them —Get Scrutiny
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Arizona Teachers Set to Strike Over School Funding and Pay
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Schools With Confederate Ties Slowly Shed Their Names
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 9
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 10
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 11
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - U.S. Students Surprise on New Exam Of Online Reading
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - NAEP: Gaps Widen Between High Fliers And Low Scorers
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 14
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 15
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 16
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Federal Special Ed. Chief Aims to Foster Partnership
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - School Shootings Reverberate On Capitol Hill
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 19
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 20
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 21
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - In Conversation John Urschel: From the NFL to MIT
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Rebecca Kolins Givan & Pamela Whitefield: Teacher Pay Isn’t the Whole Story
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 24
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 25
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 26
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 27
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Letters
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - CW1
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - CW2
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - CW3
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - CW4