As the only 2016 school board candidate who included campus security in their platform, it came as good news that school district staff finally proposed visitor screening and sex offender cross-check for our schools (“Security Tightens in District Schools” Indy, March 17).
While opposing excessive cost of outside consultants too often doing jobs senior district staff is paid to perform, I recognized we lack staff qualified to manage security issues. Accordingly, I supported funding for a carefully selected expert to develop a serious emergency response program.
Like fences and gates, visitor screening is just one necessary but intermediate step in addressing security needs to protect our children. Instead of half-measures, I’ve advocated a strategic security plan for years.
Not surprisingly, the school board’s current president stated she “wasn’t really comfortable…” with enhanced security, “…because it’s hard to accept we are at this point in society…a shame we need to do it.” Too bad she didn’t think about the social impact when our school board president voted in 2002 for the school district contract that resulted in the “Real Laguna Beach” reality television show.
Even after production that had begun on campus was shut down by parent protests, that school board blunder made LBHS the most well known public school in the nation, along with Columbine and fictional Ridell High in the movie “Grease.” The show featuring LBHS students resulted in multiple threat evacuations and loitering by sexual predators at our high school.
Because the show was syndicated for commercial distribution worldwide, LBHS is permanently at higher risk than almost any other high school in America. The only thing worse than over-reaction is under-reaction by our school board for over a decade.
Without drama or alarm I called for a comprehensive program of school employee training, emergency communications, and counter measures to protect students, school employees and campus visitors, especially between the onset of a manmade or natural disaster and the arrival of first responders.
Obviously, some but not all plan elements should be made public. Thus, it has been utterly ill-advised for current staff repeatedly to talk publicly about the surveillance cameras installed after vandalism incidents as “active shooter” counter-measures monitored by local police.
That’s why competent adult supervision is needed in our schools to make kids truly safe.
Howard Hills, Laguna Beach
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