ENCINITAS — Demonstrating that students often understand the impacts of school gun violence better than lawmakers, two high school seniors in the San Dieguito Union High School District drafted their own gun violence prevention resolution on behalf of their peers.
Written by La Costa Canyon High School seniors and co-ASB presidents Shane and Andrew Baum, the resolution is the first community-written resolution ever to be brought before and adopted by the San Dieguito Union High School District board of trustees at its Aug. 25 meeting.
The resolution focuses on four primary goals for district leadership — recognizing recent gun violence incidents, including the mass school shooting in Uvalde in May, recognizing gun violence prevention as a nonpartisan issue, implementing districtwide education measures related to safe gun storage, and advocating for common-sense federal gun laws intended to decrease gun violence.
“Policymakers like you can help prevent gun violence in schools by implementing proactive, evidence-based solutions. Our leaders must take responsible action to help keep our schools safe,” Shane Baum said. “Students and staff deserve to feel supported and advocated for on behalf of the board, especially related to school safety.”
The board adopted a gun violence prevention resolution in December, brought forward by Trustee Katrina Young, which focused on reviewing school safety plans, taking steps to support student mental health, and supporting state-level common sense gun legislation.
The Baums emphasized their resolution, while similar in some ways to the 2021 resolution, differs by focusing on gun violence prevention at the federal level. The resolution specifically states the district will call on the U.S. Congress, House of Representatives and the President to prevent gun violence.
This detail gave Trustee Michael Allman some pause. While he supports the resolution, Allman said he believes lobbying the White House is beyond the school district’s scope of responsibilities.
“It’s quite unusual for us to lobby for the federal government to do something. It’s a bit out of our zone, I think,” Allman said.
Young applauded the students for drafting and bringing forward the resolution and emphasized the importance of listening to all students about their experiences living through the current age of perpetual school-based gun violence.
“I’m really grateful and proud of these two students who have drafted a well-researched, compassionate and articulate resolution,” Young said. “We have to remember that most, if not all of us, attended high school before the shooting at Columbine … Their actual lived experiences are vastly and tragically different than anything we could possibly imagine.”
Young also disagreed with Allman’s stance, arguing that it is the trustees’ responsibility to advocate for students to the highest levels of government. She noted that she had made pleas to the White House related to education on behalf of the school district.
The board ultimately negotiated small changes to the resolution with its authors before adopting it. These included mentioning staff along with students at the beginning of the resolution and stating that the district will also bring forward the resolution at its Student Summit.
They also changed a portion of the resolution stating the district lacks sufficient counselors and other mental health support resources for students to say the district “will advocate to value mental health counselors, psychologists, and social workers and the need to identify and support students exhibiting warning signs of depression and violence.”
District students involved in the local chapter of March For Our Lives, a youth-led organization focused on reducing gun violence, spoke during public comment urging the board to adopt the resolution.
There have been 28 school shootings so far in 2022, with 34 confirmed in 2021, according to Education Week. The most recent shooting occurred on Aug. 29 at Madison Park Academy in Oakland and left a 13-year-old shot and injured.