Three-day Safe Schools Conference to increase collaboration, spotlight best practices

More than 300 educators, school workers and law enforcement representatives are set to convene in Orange County this week to address critical school safety issues.

The 12th annual Safe Schools Conference, which returns to an in-person format after going virtual last year, will take place Wednesday, July 14 through Friday, July 16 at Delta Hotels Anaheim Garden Grove. Registration is required.

Former California Education Secretary Dave Long, whose firm Dave Long & Associates is presenting the three-day event in collaboration with OCDE and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, says the objective is to amplify best practices and increase collaboration between the education and law enforcement communities.

Former California Secretary of Education Dave Long
Former California Secretary of Education Dave Long speaks at the 2019 Safe Schools Conference. Dave Long & Associates annually presents the three-day event in collaboration with OCDE and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

“The trials and tribulations of the past year and a half have multiplied the significance of this year’s Safe Schools Conference,” he said. “With this year’s conference, we will revisit basic safety topics such as bullying, cybersecurity and crisis situations, yet we have also added presentations specific to the COVID-19 era, exploring depression, isolation and the road to return with the help of student voices and superintendents.”

Long said he expects to see administrators, school board members, counselors, police officers, youth service workers and other school and community leaders interested in learning more about student safety and its impact on attendance, engagement and academic performance.

What to expect

Breakout sessions will cover a wide range of topics including bullying, the impacts of popular culture, inclusive school environments, emergency drills, gang interventions, crisis response, mental health, behavioral threat assessment, drug abuse prevention and comprehensive school safety plans.

Each day will also bring participants together for a general session.

On Wednesday, a diverse cross-section of student voices will discuss the impacts of the pandemic and distance learning on their lives, their families and their communities. Educational psychologist and parenting expert Michele Borba will share researched-based strategies for strengthening children’s resilience and reducing childhood cruelty on the following day. On the last day of the conference, a panel of prominent school superintendents will participate in a roundtable discussion titled “Leading Beyond a Global Pandemic.”

In what has become a yearly tradition, one educational leader and one law enforcement representative will be presented with the Distinguished Safe Schools Award. The 2021 honorees are Deputy Nick Doty, a school resource officer with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and Dr. Chad Hammitt, an assistant superintendent in charge of Personnel Services for the Fullerton School District.

For more information about the conference, visit, or contact OCDE Program Specialist Christine Laehle at 714-327-1067 or