Community calls for, against upped security in wake of Gardena High schooting

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People walk past the entrance to Gardena High School in Gardena, California January 18, 2011 after two students were shot, one in the head, when a gun went off accidentally in a classroom.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials leave it up to each campus to carry out daily random searches with metal detectors. District administrators on Tuesday didn't perform those checks when a 17-year-old boy brought a gun to Gardena High School in his backpack.

Police say the gun discharged in class, apparently by accident when the teen put his backpack down. The bullet grazed one student and struck another in the temple.

John Deasy, the incoming LAUSD superintendent, met with school officials and campus police to review current policies and make sure administrators follow them. Dozens attended a parent meeting at Gardena High.

Some parents praised the handling of the incident. Others criticized officials for failing to stop the 12th-grader, who's now in custody, from bringing a gun to school.

Some asked what they could do to make the campus a safer place for their kids.

AirTalk’s Larry Mantle carried this discussion onto the airwaves today during his show, fielding calls from the community who reacted to the incident and weighed in on school security.

“I feel on edge,” said Nellie, a teacher at a middle school, who called in during today’s show. “It’s multiplied, I’m sure, on the kids.”

Nellie cautioned against adding new security measures. She said her school already feels like it's secure enough. She said the school staffs 20 security officers who also act as peer mentors.

Andrew, a LAUSD teacher in South L.A., echoed that sentiment.

“Our students are feeling increasingly criminalized for just going to school,” he said. “I worry about a lockdown mentality.”

One AirTalk commenter called on the community to create constructive opportunities for youth.

“I don't know how the young gangsters are nowadays, but we really need to help these young people find constructive diversions," said user lollipopluv. "That's where the 70s generation comes into play. Why aren't we doing something about it? I don't see enough activism, as our parents and grandparents found the freedom to pursue. Let's do something about it! In a positive, productive way.”

Erica, from Hollywood, said if students fear for their safety, they're going to do what they feel they need to protect themselves.

“Gardena High School has upwards of 3,000 students, creating a situation where students are not known by their teachers and administrators and most likely do not have a person to turn to if they feel threatened," she said. "I expect situations like this to only increase no matter what policies are put in place.”

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