When Louisianna Schnell Elementary School principal, Sam LaCara, was shot and killed on campus by school custodian John Luebbers in 2011, the entire community was shocked and saddened. The community rallied around the school staff, students and parents to support them, but not everything and everyone can recover from such an event in just two years.
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“You don’t always know what will trigger things for people,” said Placerville Union School District Superintendent Erik Bonniksen, “and there has to be help for individuals if they need it.”
On Dec. 17, the U.S. Department of Education announced it had awarded a grant for $220,000 from Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) to Placerville Union School District. The district received a previous $45,000 grant from Project SERV a few months after the February shooting in 2011.
“It was for the immediate need to provide counseling for students and staff,” said Bonniksen, “but there have been long-term effects for some of the students and staff and this grant will allow us to continue counseling services and to partner with the Placerville Police Department to provide more security.”
Project SERV was established in 2001 to provide money to school districts, colleges and universities to help them recover after a traumatic or violent event on campus.
In the almost three years since the shooting, the district has increased security on all three school campuses, Schnell, Sierra Elementary and Edwin Markham Middle School, with security cameras, panic buttons in all the offices and heightened awareness of what to do in an emergency situation. The new grant will allow the district to pay for a police officer to be on the three campuses 20 hours a week as well as continuing counseling services from New Morning for students and staff.
District Educational Services Director Donna Bassett, worked with the Department of Education on the extended services grant application for almost a year, said Bonniksen. The grant will last for 18 months and Bassett is still closely involved.
“She is now in the process of working with New Morning and the Placerville Police Department to get the counselors and police officer in place as soon as possible,” said Bonniksen. “Things are going well at Schnell. Kids are happy and learning and it is positive, but we are really excited about the grant because the extra support is always welcome.”
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.