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.


University of California expels its flunking new logo

University of California

The image on the left is the old University of California logo. The one on the right is the now-rejected logo.

From the onset public opinion was critical of the new, modern logo proposed by the University of California.

Friday the university cut its losses with the UCsimplistic logo to the relief of many students, staff and alums.

"While I believe the design element in question would win wide acceptance over time, it also is important that we listen to and respect what has been a significant negative response by students, alumni and other members of our community," Daniel M. Dooley, UC's senior vice president for external relations, said in a statement.

While some attempted to defend the minimalistic design, most seemed to agree with the sentiments of Jacqueline Hamilton who wrote this on a previous KPCC story about the logo:

"Oh, my, as a UCLA alum I have to say that this looks juvenile, not representing the venerable reputation that UCLA has been building for decades. Forward-looking is one thing. Completely opaque and unrepresentative is another."


At Aldama Elementary School, parents stuggle to break the news

Flag at half mast at Aldama Middle School

Adolfo Guzman Lopez

Flags fly at half-mast at Aldama Middle School in Highland Park, in remembrance of those killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

For local parents, news of the Connecticut school shootings Friday was difficult to hear. And even harder to explain to their kids.   

Chisa Uyeki found out about the shootings on Facebook. She knows Newtown, Connecticut really well. She drives through when visiting relatives on the East Coast. She spent most of the day wondering how she would tell her kids -- a kindergartener and second grader at Aldama Elementary School in Highland Park -- about the shootings.
“I can’t understand it myself so I don’t know, I haven’t figured that out," she said. "I’m a librarian, I was out work and one of the things I read today was how to talk to kids.”

A few steps away, Philipp Lujan and his pre-school age daughter waited for his fifth grade son.
“I’m just picking him up right now… I’ll go ahead and tell him, some people just have sick mind,” he said.


Some Miramonte sex abuse lawsuits move toward trial

Miramonte lawsuits

Vanessa Romo/KPCC

Attorneys Luis Carrillo (L) and Brian Claypool (R) talking to reporters about their clients' civil lawsuits over alleged lewd acts against Miramonte students

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Mackey on Thursday ruled that two lawyers could back out of settlement talks with the Los Angeles Unified School district over alleged abuses at Miramonte Elementary. The attorneys said the district's offers after four months were "insignificant."

The first trail has been scheduled for September 23.

The lawyers, representing students and parents who allege they were harmed by former  teacher Mark Berndt, had agreed to suspend litigation last fall. They pulled out of mediation last week and filed a motion with the court to be allowed out of the deal. 

At least 120 other cl;aims releated to Brendt's actions are still in negotiation. David Holmquist, LAUSD's lawyer, said he's been working towards resolving the pending lawsuits and hopes to spare the children the trauma of testifying in court.


Experts say kids shouldn't be exposed to television coverage of shooting

In the middle of a tragedy, we are all drawn to listen and watch the news. But USC pediatrician Harvey Karp said parents of young children should be careful what images they see.

"I encourage parents to turn the TV off. Because those images are so powerful and they can be very very disturbing and really seared into your child's memory," Said Karp, who has worked with children of military personnel and veterans dealing with trauma.

That doesn't mean you should avoid the conversation. Karp said a good strategy is to focus on what will make kids feel secure: tell them about all the things that you and their teachers are doing to keep them protected.

"Visitors are not allowed at the school, or there's a gate around the school, or there's a policy at the school to help keep people like this out," he said. "Simple messages to help allay their concerns."