More than 500 educators, school workers and law enforcement representatives convened in Orange County this week for the 10th annual Safe Schools Conference.
Presented by former California Secretary of Education Dave Long through his firm, Dave Long & Associates, in collaboration with OCDE and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the conference was designed to promote best practices and increased collaboration between the education community and local police and sheriff’s departments.
“These are unique times,” Long told the OCDE Newsroom. “This presents an opportunity for the law enforcement community and the education community to exchange ideas, share the newest practices and processes, and then go back to their districts and communities and put them into place.”
The three-day event kicked off Wednesday morning at Delta Hotels Anaheim Garden Grove. By the time it wrapped on Friday, 54 workshops had addressed critical school safety topics, including bullying, social media trends, dropout prevention, active-shooter response, gang intervention, drug prevention, mental health, human trafficking and services for foster youth.
Attendees included administrators, school board members, counselors, police officers, youth service workers and other school and community leaders interested in learning more about student safety, as well as its impact on school attendance and academic performance.
Long said approximately one-third of the guests represented law enforcement; about two-thirds were educators. Of the 560 attendees, about 130 were new to the event, he said.
This year’s keynote speakers were memory expert Luis Angel Echeverria, who spoke to the power of retaining information; retired California Highway Patrol Sgt. Kevin Briggs, who presented on crisis management, leadership and suicide prevention; and Riverside County Supervising District Attorney Gerry Lopez, whose presentation focused on building positive and healthy relationships with young people, including at-risk youth.
Officer Clay Rinker, a school resource officer with the Irvine Police Department, and Mike Beekman, executive director of Safety and Student Services for the Capistrano Unified School District, were honored as the 2019 recipients of the Distinguished Safe Schools Award.
Long said plans are already underway for next year’s Safe Schools Conference, which will feature updated workshops in a larger venue.
“As the news changes and society changes, we have to change with it,” he said.
For more information, visit safeschoolsconference.com.