Wednesday, September 12, 2018


I agree with Danielle Gustafson. This same School Board sent out opt-out forms for President Barack Obama's August 2009 speech to students urging them to study and stay in school. It used the School system's automated telephone call system to make tens of thousands of calls to phone numbers, even those without a student in the household. Yet it kept parents in the dark, refusing to let them see the scary video. Excellent letter -- School Board members, answer her questions and make the video available for inspection. Now.

Time for the School Board to hire in-house counsel and dump unscholarly, somnambulistic $300,000/year FRANK UPCHURCH and the conflicted corporate law firm of UPCHURCH BAILEY AND UPCHURCH.

From Facebook:
Danielle Gustafson
August 30 at 6:58 AM
*Please Share*


Dear Mr. Forson,

My name is Danielle Gustafson. I have two children enrolled in RB Hunt Elementary School, one in second grade and the other in fifth. I am not an elementary school teacher, law enforcement officer, child development specialist or child psychiatrist. My area of expertise: my children.

On Wednesday, August 22nd, a concerned member of the school community contacted me with information that the Active Shooter videos would air school-wide on Thursday, August 23rd. First thing Thursday morning, I met with Ms. Garman, RB Hunt Principal. She was taken aback that I even knew of the plans for the day and demanded to know how I found out. I explained that I’d like to know what my children would be exposed to, the the school’s plan for emotional support, how I could best support my child and requested a preview of the videos to be aired. She told me that security is not public record; I had no right to know that the videos would be aired and I was not allowed a preview. She told me this was because I could be a perpetrator (regardless that I'm on the school approved list and Home Room Parent for my son’s second grade class).

Ultimately I picked my kids up from school that day - I am their mother and would like to make and/or participate in decisions made for my children. Their safety and health - physical AND emotional/mental - is my top priority. Please let it be known that I do not relinquish my ability to make decisions for my children to St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office or the St. Johns County School District. The intentional exclusion from a very sensitive subject effecting our children’s safety and well-being should not be turned over, and WITHOUT consent, to the “authorities.”

While I understand that violence issues run much, much deeper than this, I need to start with the most immediate concern: WHY ARE WE KEEPING SECRETS?

I speak for many parents asking the same questions. Who created the videos and what are their credentials? Which child development specialists and child psychiatrists were consulted? What resources are available to children who cannot emotionally process the videos and drills? What is the plan for children with past trauma who could be severely triggered by such videos? What is the protocol for parents to continue the conversation and education at home?

As parents, it’s our responsibility to help children through difficult aspects of real life situations. I am an advocate for safety, security and awareness. However, it can be said that lack of parental involvement is at the root of this and many other violence issues. The introduction of the active shooter topic and children’s emotional processing of the subject is certainly a family affair. Without notice of the school-wide plan, we as parents are not equipped to broach the subject with our children. Furthermore, it’s not the school’s place to decide which children can or cannot emotionally handle viewing such videos.

We teach our children to wear safety belts but do not show them carnage after an accident. We condone fire drills but do not show burned bodies after a fire. Forcing 4th and 5th graders to view images of an armed gunman in the halls? Forcing teenagers to watch video footage from the Parkland School shooting? There is a much better way to raise awareness in our children without eliciting primal fear, especially within the school system which they are required to attend until adulthood.

Additional Key Thoughts and Questions to Be Immediately Addressed:

- St. Johns County School District emphasizes the importance of family involvement in student’s education on every level. The matter of the safety of our children should be no different.

- The excuse that parents cannot preview the videos because it could reveal safety protocols to potential perpetrators is completely illogical. These attacks have been carried out by actual students who would be allowed to watch the videos. By the same logic, the school actually should be providing active shooter training to parents and volunteers within the school.

- Since my initial social media post, I have been anonymously and confidentially contacted by SIX employees of the St. Johns County School District begging for help with this matter. Why have the student’s closest and biggest advocates been hushed? What threats have been issued and for what purpose? The last message I received from a teacher thanked me profusely for speaking up & expressed that many teachers are thankful. They are hopeful that I will quickly take action to spread awareness.

- The Redwood Institute’s training in Child Abuse Prevention states that when an adult encourages a child to keep secrets from his or her parent, it is a grooming tactic for child abuse. While I am in no way accusing the school of child abuse in any form, how do we expect a child to differentiate between a “good” secret and a “bad” secret?

- It’s apparent from these protocols that these innocent children are expected to protect themselves from violent, armed offenders. Other than videos created by the Sheriff’s Department instructing children to throw chairs and pencil boxes at armed gunmen (the take-away message reported by students), what other safety protocols are enacted from the $400 million allocated in the Senate Bill 7026, The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act?

- Instead of relying solely on reactionary measures of protection during a shooting, what systems have been created to address the root of the problem? How are you addressing mental health? What programs have been created as prevention?

The option to be 100% involved in what our young children are seeing, reading and learning is essential so that we can, as a parent and guardian of their mental and physical health and wellbeing, be aware and prepared with answers, information and support as needed. I understand that these terrifying events are a new reality to all of our daily lives. I believe everyone here has the highest intentions and this should not divide us into taking sides. We now have an amazing opportunity to join forces to make our schools and community a stronger, more safe place while protecting the community’s most valuable asset: Our children.

I look forward to hearing from you promptly, Mr. Forson. As a member of the community, a tax payer and a professional, it’s important that we remember that we all work together, for each other and for the good of the whole. Decisions regarding our children cannot be made unilaterally and without insight from parents. I would like the opportunity to enact change. I am asking that a parent meeting is called at a time when parents can attend and with ample notice. We can form a task force comprised of members of law enforcement trained in this subject, child development specialists, child psychiatrists, school administration and parents. In the mean time, I am also requesting the names and contact information of those who put this video together, as well as those who decided to keep the videos a secret.


Danielle Gustafson
Human Being, Mom, Yoga Educator and Real Estate Broker

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