school safety

Yesterday's school massacre in Texas was horrific, compelling us all to mourn and then consider how to keep our own children and school staff safe. In the last few months we've also been impacted by multiple incidents of gun violence here in the city of Concord near a number of our schools. Much of this needs to be addressed on a nationwide level with common sense policy on access to guns, however we all need to do our part.  Cities like Concord should replicate what has worked in other cities, like the gun storage ordinance and free gun lock giveaway that the city of Dublin implemented. I'm thankful to our local Moms Demand Action leaders for sharing these best practices.

Here I want to share how you can find out what the Mt Diablo school district and school sites are doing to keep everyone safe, as well as what research shows is most effective in preventing violence on school grounds.

  1. Dr Clark sent out this list of resources to all families today, to help us all in discussing the tragic news from Texas. It also included a guide for school Administrators from the National Association of School Psychologists.
  2. To find out more about specifically what safety precautions and plans are in place at your school site, reach out to your principal or any member of your school site council. Every school site has a comprehensive school safety plan that is reviewed annually by the principal and school site council, which includes teachers, staff, parents and students.
    • You can view every school safety plans here on the district website (however, there are redacted sections on these because they are publicly posted)
    • These safety plans cover a wide range of potential emergencies to prepare for, and include an Active Shooter Quick Reference Guide

Our board approves these safety plans annually, but really depends on each local site council & team to tailor plans specifically to their site and make sure that a comprehensive team is well prepared.  At our last board meeting, I requested that these plans get updated with the latest research on what works best to prevent violence in schools.

Here is a must-read research based document: How Can We Prevent Gun Violence in Schools   It includes:

What We Know about Gun Violence in Schools:

  • School shooters usually have a connection to the school
  • Guns used by shooters under 18 usually come from home or a friend's home
  • There are warning signs before an act of targeted school violence occurs

How Can We Prevent Gun Violence:

  • Keep guns out of the wrong hands with laws on gun sales, safe gun storage, background checks and more
  • School based interventions including:
    • Create a safe and affirming school climate - community schools are recommended
    • Identify students at risk to themselves or others via anonymous tip line and threat assessments
    • Invest in school based mental health services
    • Provide secure gun storage information to parents (MDUSD has done this regularly via the BeSMART program)
    • Basic security measures like controlled access and interior door locks

What Safety Measures have been Harmful to Students:

  • Arming teachers
  • Over policing
  • Active shooter drills, especially if unannounced & extreme

So, what can you do?

  1. Join or connect with your school site council & principal to learn more about your school safety plan
  2. Build strong relationships with students & families on your school campus 
  3. Educate about safe gun storage: share out the BeSMART program with your PTA or school network
  4. Ask your city council to replicate Dublin's gun storage ordinance and free gun lock giveaway
  5. Advocate with Moms Demand Action for common sense gun legislation - text Ready to 644-33 or follow them on Facebook

And let me know how it's going.

To me as a mom, this is personal, and I believe that together we can make our schools & communities safer for everyone.


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celebration month

Coffee Meetup Tomorrow - Friday May 13th, 8:45am

Our last meetup went so well, I decided to schedule a 2nd one. If your schedule allows, swing by Contra Costa Coffee in Walnut Creek between 8:45am-10:30am tomorrow. Let’s connect!

Celebration month

The month of May is full of celebrations in our public schools, including

  • May 1st School Principals Day
  • May 2-6th National Teacher Appreciation Week & School Nutrition Employee Week
  • May 6th School Lunch Hero Day
  • May 11th CA Day of the Teacher, National School Nurse Day
  • May 15-21st Classified School Employee Week
  • May 18th National Speech Pathologist Day

Though I wasn’t able to keep up with each specific day, I want you to know how much I appreciate every single employee of our district for the dedication you each bring to your part of creating quality public education for all students.  Thank you!!

May 6th Superintendent Letter 

I’ll write another more detailed post about last night’s school board meeting, but for now enjoy the May 6th Friday letter, and please share all the Friday letters with your community groups & networks.

This one includes: Mt. Diablo HS teacher is selected as a County Teacher of the Year finalist; Olympic HS Dream Team earns Continuation Education Association Awards; District news including Digital Art Showcase at Sunvalley Shopping Center; School news including BMX assembly at Pine Hollow MS; District and School Staff Social Media Shout-outs; Student Spotlights; important dates and more!

View all Friday letters and Organizational Updates at

Open Job Listings to Share

There are many open jobs in our district with new higher salaries, for all levels of skills & experience, part-time or full-time, so please share this link far and wide: EDJOIN.ORG/MTDIABLO

Teamwork makes the Dream Work

I had the opportunity to be on 2 teams this week:

On Saturday my "New Kids on the Bocce" team raised $ for the Mt Diablo Education Foundation 


and yesterday I got to cut and bend rebar with this team of Mt Diablo High students at the Habitat for Humanity Esparanza Place building site in Walnut Creek. I love power tools, and seeing how much more we can get done together than any one person can do alone!


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So Much Good News

Happy Easter, Ramadan, Passover, or Bihu to all who celebrate!  

This week I had planned a coffee meetup for Friday April 22nd, but instead I will be attending the San Ramon regional PTA Advocacy Day: Let me know if you’d like to join me there!  Then the following Friday April 29th will be our coffee meetup at 9am at Contra Costa Coffee in Walnut Creek. Stop by for a chat if you can make it, I’d love to see you. I’ll share more about how you can help fully fund our public schools.

We have so much great news to share from our Mt Diablo schools right now, as well as important information. Read on for:

  • April 15th Friday letter - don’t miss it
  • School Board meetings - science curriculum adopted!
  • High School Juniors - check out &
  • Open Job Listings to Share
  • Ride for Jose Castillo

April 15th Friday Letter - Don’t Miss It

Don’t miss the April 15th Friday letter, as it has so much great information to celebrate!  Please share this news with your networks.

It includes: Riverview MS students explore the Bay Point Regional Seashore, District news including Unified Sports at YVHS is a success; School news including Valhalla PFA DREAM committee highlights Diversity, Respect, Equity, Action and Multiculturalism; Staff Spotlights on a former District and CA Teacher of the Year, MDUSD's Director of Technology & Innovation, and a stand-out history teacher; Student Spotlights including athletes in the news and Social Media Shout-outs; important dates, and more!

View all Friday letters and Organizational Updates at

School Board meetings

The April 13th school board meeting was such a joy, including the exciting adoption of our NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) curriculum for elementary and high school. Here’s a summary from the Friday letter: 

At Wednesday's School Board meeting, trustees unanimously approved the District's Tentative Agreement with the MDEA teachers' union and a mascot change from the Warriors to the Wolves at Ygnacio Valley High School. In addition, the Board approved Next Generation Science Standards materials for elementary and high school students that drew enthusiastic endorsements from teachers, who mentioned squid dissection as a highlight of the elementary curriculum. The Board also approved the appointment of Ivanna Huthman as the new Administrator of Dispute Resolution in the District's Special Education Department, as well as Summer School administrator appointments

In addition, the Board recognized April as Arab American Heritage Month and approved a resolution In Recognition of Earth Day on April 22nd and a Call to Action on Climate Change. Also, Superintendent Dr. Adam Clark reported on efforts to improve outcomes for all students in the District, Business Services Department administrators reported on a plan to reorganize Maintenance, Operations and Facilities staffing, Dr. Heather Fontanilla reported on new proposed Career Pathways courses for Construction I and Animation III, and District administrators reported on a proposed grant to improve A-G course completion required for CSU and UC admissions by high school students. A complete summary of the Board's actions is here.

Our next board meeting is April 27th, where we get to recognize our Teachers of the Year! 

Find all agendas, videos, and how to participate at

High School Juniors - Check out &

Every high school junior should begin to explore their options for education beyond high school. There are many opportunities of all types, as well as scholarships and grants to help pay for them.  Take a look at, a site run by the College Board, where students can create a list of schools they might be interested in applying to, take mini SAT practice quizzes, find financial aid, and win scholarship money.

If you want to take the SAT, the next dates are May 7 and June 4th, and the test location in our district is Ygnacio Valley High. Be sure to register early because sites fill up quickly with students from all over the region.

Are you or is a student you know undocumented? That should not stop anyone from pursuing higher education. Visit for information about the CA Dream Act financial aid application, mentorship, and resources for careers and entrepreneurship.

Open Job Listings to Share

There are many open jobs in our district for all levels of skills & experience, part-time or full-time, so please share this link far and wide: EDJOIN.ORG/MTDIABLO

The new higher salaries are starting to be listed, so please share these jobs with your diverse networks. We look forward to welcoming excellent new members to #TeamMDUSD!

Ride for Jose Castillo

It was very emotional for me to bike in the “Ride for Jose Castillo” on Saturday, organized by Bike Concord and students from Mt Diablo High. Much love to the entire community who feel this great loss.  Here is a photo of student leader/organizer Anahi, who shared that the poster she’s holding was made by Jose’s classmates and friends, given by teacher Dr Snyder to Jose’s family.


We must all continue to champion safe routes to walk & bike to school in every part of our district, and collaborate with cities to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. The good news is that we have so many dedicated community members, educators, and student leaders who are working hard every day to build healthier, safer communities for us all. 

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How YOU can help fully fund our public schools

We’ve recently heard from many teachers, parents, and community members who passionately believe that our Mt Diablo schools should be offering more - more music, art and science, as well as providing more counselors, nurses, librarians, smaller class sizes and higher salaries. Our school board agrees, but the vast majority of CA public school funding comes from the state, which we do not directly control. Therefore we've had to make tough decisions to carefully balance student offerings and salary raises within the confines of finite resources and declining enrollment. 

The good news is that we can all work together to fully fund our public schools here in Mt Diablo and across California! 

Here are 4 concrete ways you can join in:

  1. Share your story: Personal narratives are key to any successful movement. For 40 years, California has systematically disinvested from our public schools. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, staff, student or community member, your story needs to be heard. Go to to share your story and join their movement to fully fund California’s public schools. 
  2. Raise the Base: The biggest push right now that groups are coalescing around is asking the state legislature to “Raise the Base” per student state funding to public schools. The San Ramon regional PTA is holding an event on this topic on April 22:  They also have this helpful info page.
  3. Educate yourself: provides free short lessons on how California’s education system works, with key information about how parents and students can get involved at the school, district, or state level.  Create a free login and earn tickets towards monthly drawings where you could win up to $1000 for your school.  
    • They also run California’s largest annual conference for student leaders, which this year will be held June 20-22, 2022. Every high school should be represented by at least one freshman, at least one sophomore, and at least one junior. You don’t have to be an official student leader to join. Is your school represented? As of today it looks like only College Park High is. Keep track hereStudents can register directly, and educators & parent leaders are encouraged to sign up as an ally to nominate students & spread the word. Sign up at
  4. Local fundraising: A group of parent, teacher and business volunteers created the nonprofit MDUSD Education Foundation in 2016, to raise money for Mt Diablo School District STEAM and career/college programs.  They aim to ensure that no matter what zip code you live in, you’ll receive a quality education here in our public schools.  
    • Check out to donate or to volunteer on a committee or board.
    • Are you a realtor or business owner?  Join their Honor Roll Business or Professional programs to showcase your commitment to our local schools.

Interested?  Let's meet in person to discuss! 

Now that places are open again, I'd love to connect with you.  Let's start with anyone who would like to join me at a locally run coffee shop, so that we can support local small business at the same time.  Come to "Coffee with Cherise" at 9am on

Can't make it? Let me know other ways to connect - I'm happy to visit PTA/PFC meetings, neighborhood groups, etc.


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