By Connie Llanos, Daily News Staff Writer | http://bit.ly/gKTeTF
1-20-2011 - Three shootings in two days on or near Los Angeles schools triggered new worries about student safety Wednesday and a re-examination of security procedures on local campuses.
The shooting of a school officer near El Camino Real High School came just a day after two students were wounded when a gun accidentally went off at Gardena High School. Later Wednesday, another teen was shot just outside of Bell High School.
Speaking before the Bell shooting, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he wanted school safety procedures to be re-examined.
"Two shootings in as many days on or near two separate Los Angeles Unified campuses is cause for grave concern and a re-examination of our school and campus perimeter security policies," Villaraigosa said via a written statement from a mayors conference in Washington, D.C.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the wounded officer, the officer's family, and colleagues."
LAUSD Deputy Superintendent John Deasy, reacting to the Gardena shooting, said the district will assess its high schools to ensure security procedures are being followed.
Deasy, who is slated to become superintendent in April after Ramon Cortines retires, said he had learned that the policy of conducting random metal detector wand searches of students had not been consistently followed at Gardena.
Cortines said Wednesday the incidents were troubling but completely unrelated.
"We need to be very careful about creating a sense of chaos," Cortines said. "We take all of this serious but don't want overreaction. Calmness is what we need in situations like these."
Parents in Woodland Hills, who were given little information and urged to stay away from the schools until receiving further notification, grew more and more nervous about their children as they day wore on.
"I just want to hold my son and let him know that everything is going to be OK," said Colleen Bondy, a journalism teacher and mother of a third-grader at Woodlake Elementary.
At El Camino, the shooting of veteran school police officer Jeff Stenroos took place on the outer perimeter of the school and did not involve any students. The suspect was described as a male in his mid-to-late 40s.
Cortines said the lockdown of at least nine LAUSD campuses was handled very well by staff, with few complications even as some students and employees had to remain inside for six hours. The schools were: El Camino Real; Welby Way Elementary; Calabash Elementary; Pomelo Elementary; Lockhurst Elementary; Haynes Elementary; Woodlake Elementary; Hale Middle; and Leonis Continuation.
"I want people to know the heroes in this situation for me are the staff at these schools," Cortines said.
Despite the stress, most parents said they were happy to see an organized response from school officials and law enforcement.
"I feel glad that they locked them down," said Jane Geitz, a mother of three children at Woodlake Elementary.
"If they think someone unsafe is on the loose, the safest place for my children is in a classroom."
District officials said parents would be allowed to stay with their children over the next few days at the nine campuses that had been locked down Wednesday, in an effort to ease any anxieties families might be having about their children coming back to school.
"We want to make sure parents feel safe," Cortines said.
"We want them to know that if tomorrow they feel unsure about bringing their child to school we are going to encourage that principals allow them to stay on campus as long as they need to."
smf: OK so Mayor Tony didn't actually “say” anything. Thankfully unable to be two places at once he (or his people) issued a written statement from a mayor’s conference in Washington DC. where he was wearing his “Transportation Mayor” hat.
- Mayor Tony is in no position to demand anything …though because he is the principal (in the legal/corporate definition) of a partnership operating a number of LAUSD schools he is accountable to the superintendent and Bd of Ed.
- Mayor Tony is not the mayor of Gardena or Bell.
- The City Charter of the City of Los Angeles gives the mayor no role in LAUSD; the state constitution forbids such a role. The courts (Superior, Appeal and Supreme) have ruled that this particular mayor has no role in the governance of LAUSD – three times.
- I watched on TV as acting mayor Eric Garcetti did an admirable job of representing the City of Los Angeles at the Woodland Hills lockdown, responsibly deferring to the role of the school district, local officials and law enforcement.