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Local districts examining new safety procedures

Posted: January 16, 2013 7:33 p.m.
Updated: January 16, 2013 7:33 p.m.

Several local districts have revamped their safety procedures in the aftermath of December’s shooting that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The Saugus Union School District has adopted a variety of new safety and security measures beginning this semester, said district Superintendent Joan Lucid.

Some of the new measures include monthly drills to familiarize students and staff with lockdown procedures, closing and locking secondary entrances during school hours and increasing patrols from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Sheriff’s deputies will also meet with district personnel to provide crime-prevention and incident-response training.

In addition, the district will review all administrative safety and security procedures and conduct security assessments of each of its 18 facilities in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“All of our schools are so different,” Lucid said, “so we wanted to take a look at them one by one.”

Superintendent Marc Winger said the Newhall School District is taking a measured approach to examining its safety procedures.

“We didn’t jump into any changes,” Winger said. “We wanted to make sure to take our time and do it right.”

The district has retained a security-consulting firm to examine each site and make recommendations as needed.

Officials from the William S. Hart Union High School District met with security consultants this week and are reviewing security plans at every district facility, according to spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

Pinsker said another way the district is attempting to make students safer is through the Drug Free Youth in Town drug-prevention program.

“Drug users and abusers in a lot of cases are becoming our local criminals as well,” Pinsker said. “So by getting a handle on this problem we’ll have a positive impact also on safety and security of our students.”

Superintendent Robert Nolet said Sulphur Springs School District is also taking a measured approach to school safety revisions.

The Canyon Country district is continuing to review all of its safety procedures and plans ahead of any changes, he said.

“We don’t want to overreact,” Nolet said. “We want to take a very pragmatic approach.”

Nolet said the district will examine both policy changes — such as stepping up the frequency of lock-down drills and providing additional training to staff — and physical changes, such as how to alter facilities to make them safer.

James Gibson, superintendent of the Castaic Union School District, said the district is confident in its existing safety and security measures, which are stringent due to the nearby Pitchess Detention Center.

But the district is waiting for more detailed information from the Sandy Hook shooting to see if there is anything it could do better, Gibson said.

Any local security changes come ahead of a planned countywide examination of school safety.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted last week to conduct a safety assessment of each of the county’s 80 public school districts.

Gibson said it is unfortunate that school districts have to consider the possibility of violence at their facilities when determining school safety plans.

“But I would rather have stronger measures in place and not need them than have to explain to parents why we didn’t,” Gibson said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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