Recent arrest of former Redlands High School teacherPosted by Mauricio Arellano on 11/9/2018 2:00:00 PM
Dear RUSD educational community,
Yesterday, the District received disturbing and disappointing notice that a former Redlands High School teacher, Joel Koonce – was arrested on charges of child molestation and child pornography.
He worked at Redlands High School from September of 2016 to November 2017. In October of 2017, he was placed on administrative leave and he was directed to remain off of District property, immediately turn over any district keys and all other District property in his possession.
Beginning in July of 2017, performance related issues emerged and were being addressed according to our personnel procedures. These issues had nothing to do with sexual misconduct.
See Something. Hear Something. Sense Something. SAY SOMETHING.
On October 2017, one of our employees sensed that something was not right about an interaction with Koonce and reported the incident; a CPS report was filed. The District’s actions to report prompted the first investigation of Koonce by Redlands Police Department. By November of 2017, RPD was unable to substantiate any criminal behavior.
Based on the fact that the District had lost faith in Koonce to properly carry out his duties and responsibilities, and the fact that he was still within his probationary period as defined by the Education Code, the decision was made to release him from his contract with the District in November of 2017.
In the abundance of caution, the District took further steps to submit notice to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Well after Koonce’s departure from the District, in July of 2018, an employee heard a rumor about Koonce and a second mandated report was submitted to CPS, which prompted another investigation.
On October of 2018, the District was contacted by a local private counseling agency indicating an unnamed student declared sexual abuse at the hands of Koonce. For the third time, a District employee immediately reported the incident to RPD which led to yet another investigation and the eventual arrest of Koonce by the Redlands Police Department.
The District’s heightened awareness on student safety triggered the various mandated reports mentioned above and we must continue to reinforce the importance of reporting reasonable suspicions to the proper authorities. In this case, District employees accepted and acted on their individual mandated reporter responsibilities. We each must continue to commit to Say Something if we See, Hear or Sense Something.
The poster above will soon be released and all schools will be directed to post in common areas that will provide the necessary information for anyone to feel confident and empowered to submit a mandated report when there is reasonable suspicion. As part of our RUSD 2025 Excellence for All Students, we all have a commitment and responsibility to allow learning to occur in safe and secure environments.
As a part of our ongoing mission to address this issue, on November 13, 2018, the Board of Education will review and act on the final version of a new professional conduct policy that has been developed over the last several months.
These policies allow us to set a new standard on how we keep kids safe and how we report questionable conduct.
Cases like this are truly reprehensible, but it is important to be reminded that the unconscionable actions of a few of our staff who violate our trust does not diminish the trust we have in our 1,800 employees who continue to perform in the best interest of our students.
Student safety is our shared responsibility and shared accountability. Together, we can keep our children safe.
Updated Campus Safety: August 2018Posted by MaryRone Shell on 8/1/2018 9:00:00 AM
Dear RUSD Parent:
The safety of our students and staff continues to be a very high priority for me and the Members of the Board of Education. The past few months, I have been working closely and strategically with our Principals to identify vulnerabilities within our schools and to identify those practices or unique school culture systems that unintentionally promote convenience but compromise safety. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, you will no doubt experience changes on each of our campuses that are intended to enhance safety. Regretfully, convenience will be affected, in order to enhance safety.
The District purchased the Raptor System for all schools in the District. This electronic system will be used to grant entrance to volunteers and contractors to the campuses during school hours by scanning a driver’s license, a State identification card or manual entry of the person’s name and social security number. The purpose of the system is to clear anyone who is entering the campus to ensure they are not a threat by quickly checking the national database on child predators. A letter specifically summarizing how the system works and how it will be used at schools will be sent next week.
Eliminating easy or unrestricted entry to campuses is another focus. All schools will be asked to maintain a closed perimeter of the school. No longer will non-students or non-employees be allowed to enter the perimeter of the school during school hours, without having to enter through the front office. All non-students or non-employees who wish to enter the campus for an appropriate reason, must enter through the office and be cleared. Schools will communicate to parents their individual systems and timelines for implementation to have students enter the campus in the morning and exit the campus in the afternoon.
At the high school level, School Resource Officers will be reinstated this Fall. These positions were eliminated in 2010 during the State budget crisis. We will, once again, have a sworn officer at each of our three comprehensive high schools to work collaboratively with staff, students, administration and the surrounding community. The High School Principals have the charge to introduce the officer to their stakeholders and to clearly communicate their roles and responsibilities.
Community collaboration is vital. I have asked all of our Principals to form a Safety Committee that is made up of staff, parents and students and to schedule monthly meetings. This monthly dialogue will assist schools to continue to identify vulnerabilities and/or to identify best practices that can be enhanced and replicated at other schools.
In summary, we realize that we have not exhausted all of the possibilities to enhance the physical safety of our schools. However, we have started to take bold steps and to prioritize safety in our District budget. I want to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding when you experience for the first time, an inconvenience to your school experience related to addressing safety. I ask that you please remember that safety (at times at the expense of convenience) will continue to be our priority. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s school safety plan, please feel confident in speaking to the Principal.
Mauricio V. Arellano
Superintendent of Schools
Agosto del 2018
Estimados padres del RUSD:
La seguridad de nuestros estudiantes y el personal continúa siendo la máxima prioridad para los miembros de la Junta de Educación y para mí. En los últimos meses, he trabajado estrechamente y estratégicamente con nuestros directores para identificar las vulnerabilidades de nuestras escuelas e identificar esas prácticas o sistemas únicos de cultura escolar que promueven la conveniencia de manera involuntaria pero comprometen la seguridad. A partir del año escolar 2018-19, sin duda experimentarán cambios en cada uno de nuestros campus con el propósito de mejorar la seguridad. Lamentablemente, la comodidad se verá afectada, a fin de mejorar la seguridad.
El Distrito compró el Sistema Raptor para todas nuestras escuelas. Este sistema electrónico se utilizará para permitir el ingreso de voluntarios y contratistas a los campus durante el horario escolar mediante el escaneo de una licencia de conducir, una tarjeta de identificación o del estado o el ingreso manual del nombre de la persona y el número de seguro social. El propósito del sistema es inspeccionar a cualquiera que ingrese al campus al consultar rápidamente la base de datos nacional de depredadores de niños para garantizar que no sean una amenaza. La próxima semana se enviará una carta que resume específicamente cómo funciona el sistema y cómo se usará en las escuelas.
Eliminar la entrada fácil o sin restricciones a los campus es otro enfoque. Se les pedirá a todas las escuelas que mantengan un perímetro cerrado de la escuela. Ya no se les permitirá a los no estudiantes o no empleados ingresar al perímetro de la escuela durante el horario escolar, sin tener que ingresar a través de la oficina principal. Todos los no estudiantes o no empleados que deseen ingresar al campus por una razón apropiada, deben ingresar a través de la oficina y ser autorizados. Las escuelas comunicarán a los padres sus sistemas individuales y cronogramas para la implementación del ingreso de los estudiantes al campus por la mañana y su salida por la tarde.
Oficiales de policía serán reintegrados este otoño en las preparatorias. Estas posiciones fueron eliminadas en 2010 durante la crisis del presupuesto estatal. Tendremos, una vez más, un oficial en cada una de nuestras tres preparatorias integrales para trabajar en colaboración con el personal, los estudiantes, la administración y la comunidad circundante. Los directores de la preparatorias están encargados de presentar al oficial a sus partes interesadas y comunicar claramente sus roles y responsabilidades.
La colaboración de la comunidad es vital. Les pedí a todos nuestros directores que formen un Comité de Seguridad compuesto por el personal, los padres y los alumnos, y que programen reuniones mensuales. Este diálogo mensual ayudará a las escuelas a seguir identificando las vulnerabilidades y /o identificar las prácticas que pueden mejorarse y replicarse en otras escuelas.
En resumen, nos damos cuenta de que no hemos agotado todas las posibilidades para mejorar la seguridad física de nuestras escuelas. Sin embargo, hemos comenzado con pasos firmes y dando la prioridad a la seguridad en nuestro presupuesto del distrito. Quiero agradecerle de antemano por su paciencia y comprensión cuando experimente por primera vez un inconveniente en su experiencia escolar relacionad con la seguridad. Le pido que recuerde que la seguridad (a veces a expensas de la conveniencia) seguirá siendo nuestra prioridad. Si tiene preguntas o inquietudes sobre el plan de seguridad escolar de su hijo, tenga la confianza de hablar con el director.
Mauricio V. Arellano