About Us

Delaine Eastin
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

October 24, 2000

John Johannessen, President
Stop Our Shootings
P.O. Box 16206
Irvine, CA 92323

Dear Mr. Johannessen:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin has asked that I respond to your letter and to thank you for sharing materials about your gun awareness organization Stop Our Shootings, Inc.

The correspondence you included from local, state, and federal government entities and from web site users evidence your success in transforming your daughter's devastating shooting accident to a way to help prevent similar future incidents. It must also be gratifying to know that while you are cautioning young people on the risk of handling guns, you are perhaps saving lives.

You are correct that gun safety and other issue-specific safety education is provided as supplemental instruction and implemented at the discretion of individual schools and school districts. However, the California Department of Education's Safe Schools and Violence Prevention Office promotes school safety and learning support strategies that improve or enhance safety for all students. The enclosed program summary describes the programs we offer to support academic and societal success.

This year, in an effort to acknowledge the need to prevent future tragedies like Columbine High School and the others you mentioned, State Superintendent Delaine Eastin and Attorney General Bill Lockyer convened an advisory task force to develop recommendations in support of school safety. In discussions of the rationale or source behind campus shootings, it was agreed that the most compelling element for preventing youth from becoming involved with such violence is to recognize the strength of, and reinforce positive relationships between teachers and students, and between students and each other. Being prepared for crisis and disaster is indeed important, but that is not enough. Schools are also being encouraged to develop and strengthen personal relationships and community and law enforcement partnerships, focus on positive youth development and real-world activities that enhance a student's personal and academic success, and in turn, meet the demand for strong accountability for schools.

It is our belief that students can benefit from caring and informed individuals like you who share personal, direct, and age-appropriate information that will help them make the right choices and the important decisions. Likewise, we are sure you will agree to the need for each of us to instill in each student self-appreciation and the belief that they will contribute as members of California's citizenry. We appreciate you informing us of your efforts and wish you, your family, and your organization every success. Please call Vivian Linfor of my staff at (916) 323-1028 if you have further questions or comments.

Henry Der
Deputy Superintendent
Education Equity, Access and Support Branch

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