Functions of the superintendent

You are the superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District. It’s currently 10:07 a.m. You’ve just received a call from Vice Principal Eduardo Gutierrez at Southwest Junior High School that a mass shooting has taken place, and the school’s principal is out of the country.

He informs you that he believes a sole gunman entered the campus around 9:45 a.m. and stormed past administrative offices into the school’s gymnasium. He shot and killed the receptionist who tried to stop him. 911 was called at 9:50 a.m. once others in a staff meeting realized what was going on. For nearly 10 minutes, the gunman went on a shooting spree. The impact of the shootings has not been determined, but first responders are on the scene. Media are en route as well. Given that the board of education’s offices are two blocks from the campus, you are asked to rush over and be the spokesperson for the school and the school district.

You rush to your car with your administrative assistant, who drives you to the school so that you can prepare your response plan.

Response Strategy
With no crisis plan in place, you must act on your toes. On the car ride to the campus, you start working.


• The three target audiences you plan to address.
• Response strategies you will use to relay information to them as you know it.
• Messages you have for these three audiences at this time.

Update #1
Upon arrival at the school, you see five television crews waiting in the parking lot. As soon as you open the door, you are rushed by media for information. You are overwhelmed with questions and cannot avoid making an initial comment despite not having much information.

What is your initial statement to the media? (Note: Think about the readings for the week and how the initial response sets the tone for future media questions as well as reaction from other stakeholder groups.)

Note: You can see your previous responses by clicking Your previous responses button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Update #2
As you were delivering your statement to the media, detectives swarmed the campus and discovered the identity of the shooter.

Mr. Michael Thompson, a local contractor and general repairman, was identified as being the shooter. He was currently dating Ms. Kami Huang, the school’s music instructor and marching band leader. Another teacher, Mr. David Swift, told you that he knew Ms. Huang was seeing someone else in addition to Mr. Thompson. Additionally, though police have not released an exact number of fatalities and injuries, you have heard from the medical response team that at least 10 students are dead and many more injured.

What will your updated response be? What new information is wanted by the three targeted audiences?

Update #3
You believe you just heard another gunshot from inside the school during your last statement to the media, and your cellphone rings with a message from your administrative assistant that there are two shooters on the campus.

Parents are calling asking if their children are okay, and news media are pressing you for more details about the shooter and the victims. Police have confirmed what you were first told by the medical response team: 17 students have been killed, and at least 25 others who were in the gymnasium at the time of the shooting were injured. Survivors have been taken to hospitals in Alameda, but you are unable to direct parents to which hospital students have been taken to at this time.

Update #4
Through working with police teams who have thoroughly checked the school, you can confirm that there is no second shooter. That was a rumor. You also now know the total impact of the mass shooting: 17 students were killed at the school, 6 others died while receiving medical treatment (either en route to hospitals or at the hospitals), and 31 other students were injured and are being treated.

Mr. Michael Thompson killed himself in the gymnasium and had a handwritten note in his shirt pocket that read:

“I had to do this. She played me like a fool. She told me she needed to grade papers last night, but instead I caught her seeing someone else. She knew I loved her, but she used the children to cover her lies. She can’t do that anymore.”

For your final statement to the media, how do you explain what unfolded? What information do you release? What messages do you send to those three stakeholder groups you identified at the onset of this activity?









































































Sample Solution