Expert on school crisis events in Mukilteo tonight

By Brandon Gustafson | Apr 04, 2018

One of the country’s top crisis experts is leading a presentation for the Mukilteo community regarding school crisis events and their impacts on their communities tonight at the Kamiak Performing Arts Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Dr. David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at the University of Southern California, led a presentation to Mukilteo School District staff members yesterday and also met with staff members at ACES, Mariner, and Kamiak high schools.

“He will provide staff members and those who attend the community meeting with practical suggestions on how to identify common adjustment difficulties in children at times of crisis and to promote effective coping strategies,” Mukilteo School District spokesman Andy Muntz said.

“He will provide examples from over 30 years of experience assisting schools and communities to recover from crisis events.”

Schonfeld provided consultation and help to communities following shootings at Parkland, Florida, in February, the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and the Aurora, Colorado, shooting in 2012, and the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

He also assisted the Marysville and Spokane communities following school shootings in 2014 and 2017, respectively.

Schonfeld isn’t a stranger to the Mukilteo community. Following the July 2016 shooting where three Kamiak grads were shot and killed and another was wounded, Schonfeld helped Kamiak staff in the aftermath.

“You may recall that the tragic shooting in the summer of 2016 came at a time when the staff and students at Kamiak were already dealing with the emotions from other events, such as student suicides,” Muntz said. “Following the shooting in 2016, he provided two days of training for Kamiak staff members on how to recognize and respond to trauma and bereavement, and spent five days with a team of staff members to plan for student and staff needs throughout the year.”

According to the Mukilteo School District, after Schonfeld establishes a relationship with a community, he commits to helping them in the future.

“As a result, we felt it was appropriate to contact him again to see what he could do to help, and he graciously agreed to spend two days with us,” Muntz said.

The Mukilteo community has been very vocal regarding gun violence in schools and the community since the 2016 shooting.

Students at Kamiak and Mariner high schools, and Olympic View, Explorer, Harbour Pointe and Voyager middle schools all participated in the National School Walkout on March 14.

Many students helped organize or marched in the March For Our Lives events on March 24 to protest gun violence and school shootings.

Kamiak students held Never Again: Mukilteo, a rally against gun violence and school shootings this past Saturday, attracting roughly 200 people.

On Feb. 14, an ACES High School student was arrested for planning to shoot and bomb the school on April 19.

His grandmother discovered his plans and reported him to the police. He has pleaded not guilty to three felony accounts.

Muntz says the ACES incident helped prompt the school district to contact Schonfeld.

“As with all school shootings, the news of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, had a big impact on staff members throughout the Mukilteo School District,” Muntz said. “But compounding that tragedy was the news locally and at the same time that one of our students was arrested for planning a similar shooting at ACES High School.

“That event hit the staff at Kamiak particularly hard because the student had been a student there a year ago, and because the evidence uncovered by police officers about the student's plans indicated that Kamiak was as close as being on the other side of a coin flip from instead being the target of his plan.”

During the community session, Schonfeld will provide suggestions to parents on how to identify “common adjustment difficulties” in children during times of crisis, and will also promote effective coping strategies.

According to Muntz, Schonfeld has said crisis events often impact adults in the school’s community to at least the same degree as they impact students, and that being with children who are in distress can also distress school staff members as well.

Because of that, Schonfeld will offer advice on why professional self-care is important and strategies to address those sorts of needs.

 

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