SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Educators, school board members, parents, and grandparents headed to their local school board meeting with heavy hearts on Tuesday night.
Tuesday's Texas elementary school shooting should be unthinkable, but after the deadly Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, and other mass shootings since then, it is no longer rare.
Superintendent Hilda Maldonado said she is aware that some parents will be nervous about sending their children to school, even though what happened took place about 1,500 miles away.
"Every time we hear about unconscionable, horrific acts like this in schools, we know it raises the anxiety for parents and teacher and others," said Maldonado. "It causes us to stop and think about 'are we providing the safest environment? Do we know how to help those who may be in pain, that may even think about doing something like this?'"
She said the district's heart goes out to the families of the 19 children and two educators killed on Tuesday and the Uvalde, Texas school community.
"We want to continue to encourage people to speak up, to let us know how they are feeling, to let us know if they think someone may be struggling that needs help," Maldonado said.
Maldonado said that the district has already been working to raise awareness about mental illness.
"We will continue to put all those things in place that we have put in all year long for mental health for everyone in our schools – our teachers, our students, our staff. Everyone needs to come together to speak up."
When asked if she would call a safety meeting she said, "We can certainly talk to them about heightened awareness, I believe that already naturally happens. By the way, I have full confidence in all my staff at school sites who do this work, our safety administrators being highly aware."
She encourages people who see someone struggling to talk about it before something bad happens.
Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido issued a statement saying in part:
"Student safety is our first priority; a responsibility that Santa Barbara County school leaders and employees take very seriously. While schools remain among the safest places for students, we also know that today's shooting may cause heightened concern about safety issues.
"Each Santa Barbara County school has a safety plan with procedures that contribute to maintaining a safe learning environment for our students. Local districts work closely with law enforcement agencies to build systems that aim to prevent violent episodes in local schools.
"These senseless acts of violence must end, and we need to do everything in our power to keep our schools safe. I resolve to work closely with school leaders, law enforcement agencies, policymakers, and others in our community to align actions and resources as we move forward proactively to address the safety and well-being of our students and staff in Santa Barbara County Schools."Susan Salceda, County Superintendent of Schools
Like Maldonado, she said their deepest sympathies are with the families whose lives have been altered forever.
A group carrying signs in front of the district office said that they have lost confidence in district leadership and spending that has caused people to leave their jobs.
Mclaren said she knows what happened must overshadow public comments and the school board agendas.
Mclaren happens to be from Texas and does not support the relaxed gun laws in her home state.
She hopes people with opposing views will be kind to each other and reach out to show they care about their kids and grandkids.
To watch President Biden's statement on this shooting, click the YouTube player below.