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How to get involved in seismic safety

Here are ways that you can learn more and get involved in earthquake safety at schools in your community.

First, find out whether your child’s school appears on the state’s list of schools with seismic safety concerns (the AB 300 list). You also should find out if the school has uncertified construction projects under the Field Act, or is near a fault, landslide or liquefaction zone.

You can do this by searching California Watch’s interactive database of the state’s public K-12 schools. The list does not include charter schools; charter schools are not required to use buildings that are certified under the Field Act, unless they use state funds for construction or renovation, or include the Field Act in their charters.

Many schools meet all of the state’s seismic safety criteria and are located away from faults or liquefaction zones. The risk for students in these schools is considered small, but parents will want to make sure their children are prepared. 

If your school has any additional risks or red flags – or you are concerned about seismic safety in schools in general – there are a number of individuals and organizations you can contact, beginning with the school principal, the district superintendent or the school board. For more information on how to investigate, read our primer here.

Depending on the potential safety issues you find at your school through our database, you may want to ask the school principal, district superintendent or school board the following questions:

Your school appears on the AB 300 list

  • Can you tell me what, if anything, has been done about making seismic upgrades to these buildings since the AB 300 report was completed in 2002? 

  • Has a seismic review been conducted? 

  • Are students and staff using these buildings? 

  • If unsafe conditions continue to exist, what can be done to address them? 

  • What is the estimated cost of making seismic upgrades?

If school officials claim to have resolved safety problems with buildings on the AB 300 list, members of the public can request the following documentation:

  • The Division of the State Architect application ID number for the project and/or the Office of Public School Construction number

  • The approval letter from the state architect’s office, which comes when plans are approved, and the certification letter that the work was completed according to Field Act standards

  • If you obtain these documents and are willing to share them, please e-mail us at seismic@californiawatch.org.

Your school lacks Field Act certification

  • Which buildings within the school lack Field Act certification? 

  • Why hasn’t the project been certified? 

  • If paperwork is missing, is there any way you can guarantee the necessary safety precautions were followed during construction?

  • Are these uncertified buildings in use by students and staff? 

  • If school officials say their buildings are certified under the Field Act, the public can ask for a copy of the letter of certification from the Division of the State Architect. If you obtain this document and are willing to share it, please e-mail us at seismic@californiawatch.org.

Your school is near a fault or liquefaction zone

  • Have all buildings received Field Act certification?

  • If the school was built before 1972, has it been retrofitted?

  • If the school was built in a liquefaction zone prior to it being designated as a liquefaction zone, has it been retrofitted? 

Click here for the contact information for the state's 30 largest school districts. 

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