So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

After Connecticut shooting, southland school districts evaluate security policies

Newtown Vigil in SoCal

Grant Slater/KPCC

Southern Californians hold a vigil on December 15 at Glenoaks Park in Glendale for the victims of a mass shooting at an Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

On the first school day after the deadly elementary school shooting in Connecticut, Southern California educators are reviewing their own security policies.

“We do have closed campuses in all of our schools. That means that visitors, parents, staff even, can only come in one way,” said Mary Siu, superintendent of the Cerritos-area ABC Unified School District. "There are not multiple entrances to a school."

Siu is ahead of the game. As the seriousness of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut was unfolding on Friday, she emailed school district staff informing them about the shootings. She also emailed parents to reassure them that the district has lockdown procedures and that entrance to each campuses is limited to a single entrance. She also beefed up patrols.

“We serve five major cities and three of them had already talked with me about making sure that on Friday at least and throughout this week, that we would have law enforcement circulating all of our schools to have a sense that there are extra precautions taken,” Siu said.

She said parents have asked about the policies and she's instructed principals to email the parents by the end of the day Monday. She is also seeking suggestions from principals and other administrators this week on how to further tighten campus security policies.

Further south, teachers with the Newport-Mesa Unified district have been calling union president Kimberly Claytor. 

“If we had to get out of the school, how would we leave the grounds if we don’t have access to keys to a particular gate,” one worried teacher asked her. Others, though are “feeling pretty safe because they have strict protocols about who comes on campus and everyone who comes on campus is known.”

Claytor described the mood among teachers as sadness, grief, and shock. Newport-Mesa Unified administrators are talking to all district teachers about helping of all ages students talk through their feelings about the school shooting.

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