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03/19/2007: Principal Message to Dons Community

To the Dons community,


As you know, on March 14, an El Puente High School student was killed in a gang fight between the East Side and West Side gangs. The victim was known to many students in the Santa Barbara School District, including many of our own students.


As a result of the gang violence in our community, we are taking steps to ensure the physical and emotional wellbeing of our students, today and in the years to come. In the short-term, we will be providing the following interventions:


  1. Counselors will be visiting classes that are the most affected to provide information and counseling services.
  2. Student groups will be called together in assemblies to receive information and services to help deal with this situation. (i.e. athletes, student clubs, etc.)
  3. The counseling office will remain open and free of scheduled appointments in order to provide grief counseling to any student in need. School counselors, psychologists, and youth service specialists will be available throughout the day.
  4. Any student who feels unsafe at school will be escorted to the counseling office. The student will receive counseling support and the counselors will arrange for safe transportation home.
  5. The Principal’s message to the school community will be played on a continuous loop via Channel 6 (SBTV) throughout the day on Friday March 16.
  6. The faculty will be a visible presence on campus, looking for any student who may need assistance, or any individual who is visiting campus without permission.
  7. There will be an increased presence of police officers and security personnel on campus and in the surrounding neighborhood.
  8. The June 14 SBHS Minimum Day is cancelled. The administration, in cooperation with a faculty committee, will determine the best final exam schedule for our students and our community.


A Community Hotline is available for any person – student or adult – who would like to call and leave a message on this topic (or any other). If you would like to voice a concern, you may leave an anonymous message at 966-9101 x.400.


I don’t believe there will be any violence on our campus as a result of Wednesday’s gang fight. However, if we are notified of any suspicious activity in the surrounding neighborhood, we may take precautionary measures such as closing one entrance to the school.


On Friday March 16, the Anapamu Street gate was closed to all traffic. This allowed school personnel to personally view and speak with individuals entering campus by car. While this measure was inconvenient, it provided our students with an additional level of safety during an anxious time in the city of Santa Barbara. I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced on Friday afternoon.


Looking to the future wellbeing of our students, we have already taken many long-term actions. These are only a few:


  1. Increasing the number of counselors available to students, and reconfiguring the counseling office to provide the best services possible.
  2. Development of a Freshman Mentor program, working in concert with the City Council and community members to provide at-risk students with additional support.
  3. “Too Good for Drugs and Violence” lessons taught in all PE classes.
  4. Youth Service Specialists consistently visit classes to provide social/emotional student support.
  5. Promoting and increasing the number of student clubs on campus, providing the student body with multiple venues to express their opinions and take action on social issues.
  6. Partnering with UCSB and the YMCA to develop a 3-year anti-bullying campaign.
  7. Partnering with the police and City Council to make our school even safer.



If you have the chance, please take every moment you can to thank the faculty, the support staff, and especially the counselors for their efforts this past week. They represent the greatest parts of the Dons community – a steadfast commitment to promoting the social and emotional welfare of each student, no matter what the situation. I am grateful to be associated with our outstanding staff, and I am thankful for the support our greater community has offered in response to a tragic event in our city.




Warmest regards,



Paul Turnbull


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