LA Unified officials say policies not adhered to in Gardena gun incident

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.
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. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Incoming L.A. Unified superintendent John Deasy said Wednesday that administrators at Gardena High School did not follow a long-standing weapons search policy Tuesday when a student brought a gun to campus. The gun discharged, apparently accidentally, and seriously injured two students.

Since a tragic high school shooting in the San Fernando Valley nearly 20 years ago, the district requires high schools to carry out daily random searches for weapons. Administrators at Gardena High typically did so with portable metal detectors.

They didn’t search students on the day a 17-year-old brought a gun to campus. Deputy Superintendent Deasy said he’s contacted district high schools to make sure the policy’s followed.

Outside the school, Fili Lameta, who came to pick up his nephew at the school, said the school district's actions don’t put him at ease. He’s the parent of a third grader at a nearby elementary school.

"My kids will never come to this school," said Lameta, "because things happen here. But I hope, and I wish that in the future everything will be enforced, really strong security for the safety of the kids."

Dozens of parents attended an on-campus meeting. Some expressed frustration with the school district’s handling of the incident while others said they’re ready to help the campus heal from the shooting’s aftermath.

That’s what brought Reynaldo Reaser and about a dozen other African-American men to the 2,400 student Gardena High School campus. "We’re here today on the issue with the two kids getting shot and coming together and forming a safe passage for these kids so they could feel safe in the community, and so that allowing the incident that happened, that it won’t happen again."

Reaser’s with a group called Reclaiming America’s Community Through Empowerment.

Marcus Bell is also here to talk to school administrators about helping out. His group, Amer-i-can, works with high school students to steer them away from gangs.

Bell often shares his experience attending Gardena High three decades ago. "We’ve been through this lifestyle before, you know, carrying guns and things like that. So it’s a big concern to individuals like myself now, I’m 46 years old, I’ve been to prison, I’ve been involved with the gangs, but I changed my life."

Bell and the others said they want the public to know that community activists are concerned about the shooting and are ready to roll up their sleeves to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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