Over half of a million California students are enrolled in private K-12 schools.  That is a bit under 8% of the total, but in some place, like San Francisco, the percentage can be as high as 28-30% of students in private schools.  But this is not a Post about private vs. public school education, it is one about private school safety, or lack of earthquake safety in private schools.

In March of 1933 a Magnitude 6.4 earthquake stuck Long Beach, California and destroyed 70 schools and severely damaged another 120. Fortunately, the quake occurred after schools were closed. A month later California Governor James Rolph signed into law the Field Act, mandating the seismic safety of California schools.  This legislation and its successor laws and regulations, are considered the gold standard for seismic safety in schools worldwide.

But the law does not apply to private schools, and that leaves students attending private schools at risk of being in buildings that are possibly unsafe in an earthquake.  Although there is legislation that had the intent to provide all students safe buildings (the Private Schools Building Safety Act of 1986), there is no firm mandate and thus private school structures are less likely to be as safe as those public school buildings covered by the Field Act.

The issue of private school safety has been examined for over 13 years by the Seismic Safety Commission, in reports in 2004 and 2009 and testimony before the Commission in 2017.  The easiest solution is to have all California schools covered under Field Act requirements.