Schools to Step Up Security


This story was updated with new information Jan. 25. 

By Marilynn Young|LB Indy

In the wake of several acts of vandalism at Laguna Beach schools, administrators plan to bolster security at all four campuses by installing surveillance cameras, Facilities Director Jeffrey Dixon said Tuesday.

A request to determine the cost of such a system will be made at the next school board meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 26, Dixon said.

Dixon said he will seek authorization for advice from consultant Paul Klepp at a cost of under $10,000. The cost for each surveillance camera ranges from $600 to $1,000, which includes the camera, software and installation. Four schools might require as many as 100 cameras, Dixon estimated.

The consultation will include information on complying with laws and regulations and effective camera placement, Dixon said.

Klepp was hired by Saddleback Unified to install about 1,000 surveillance cameras throughout the school district.

The cameras have a software program that could be networked to the Laguna Beach Police Department, where they can be monitored. The cameras could be accessed in the case of an “active shooter” incident taking place on any school as well, Dixon said.

If approved, the first installation would take place at the high school, where four acts of vandalism have taken place over the last six months. The most recent involved a New Year’s Eve break-in, where vandals sprayed fire-retardant over lab equipment in science classrooms and wrote obscene graffiti on whiteboards. Citywide, there were  52 reports of graffiti last year, Sgt. Tim Kleiser said.

In the meantime, four temporary surveillance cameras have been installed in the high school quad, Dixon said.

The cameras were provided by the fire department and are not monitored, but could be reviewed if an incident occurred, said district spokeswoman Leisa Winston. One stipulation of the district’s policy on surveillance cameras requires that they “shall not be placed in areas where students, staff, or community members have a reasonable expectation of privacy.” The policy also says if surveillance images become part of a student personnel record, they will be “accessed, retained, and disclosed in accordance with law, Board policy, administrative regulation, and any applicable collective bargaining agreements.”

Detective Cornelius Ashton is investigating all the vandalism incidents, Sgt. Tim Kleiser said. So far no one has been arrested and authorities are not saying whether they have established a common link.

The most destructive incident occurred last August, when vandals smashed and destroyed the school’s heating and air conditioning unit, which cost $9,000 to repair.

The school still lacks air conditioning but does have heat while one repair part is still on back-order, Dixon said.

He thinks parents will agree to the cameras.

Also Tuesday, Dixon said he will update board members on the 10-year facilities plan, which includes a proposal to make the high school theater compliant with the American Disabilities Act by installing a new wheel chair lift to make all theater levels accessible by disabled patrons.



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