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Southland school district officials reviewing security, reassuring parents

Costa Mesa elementary school principal led two meetings Monday morning for parents and teachers. The topic: school security.
Costa Mesa elementary school principal led two meetings Monday morning for parents and teachers. The topic: school security.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez

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Conversations across Southern California campuses Monday mostly centered on one thing: security. 

Stephen Allen and his wife spent the weekend  assessing whether someone could sneak onto California Elementary School in Costa Mesa, where his son is in the second grade.

"We kind of went through, me and my wife, through what they do here. It seems like it shouldn't be able to happen here, but you never know," he said.

The school's principal, Matt Broesamle, said the Allens have nothing to worry about.

"During the day this gate right here remains locked, the front gate right there where kids are walking through is locked, the only way to access the campus is through the front office right there," Broesamle said, pointing.

The principal led two meetings Monday morning. He addressed about 40 parents, explaining the gate system and emergency plans. And then he met with teachers to remind them of safety policies and proceedures -- and to mentor them on how to talk to students about the shooting.

Teacher Jaymi Ropp said her kindergarteners have memorized safety procedures.

“They know either to either to go under the table for different things or go under the chair, they know to shut off the lights, they know to make sure that the teacher is OK. They know not to touch the phone unless permission or told to. They've got a lot of procedures and protocols,” Ropp said.

School shootings in recent decades have prompted schools to increase security. Despite expert consensus that schools are safe place, the latest tragedy is again prompting educators across the country, to review whether there's anything more they can do.

In Irvine, for instance, officials plan a school safety town hall meeting on Wednesday.

Newport Mesa Unified Board Member Katrina Foley said she spent a lot of time this weekend asking residents for their suggestions. She's getting requests for more fences around campuses and to bring back police department patrols at two of the district's high schools. They were axed last year because of budget cuts.

"Because budgets are tight, as we all know, staffing is probably not an option at the school district level, but we could maybe put security cameras in the schools," she said. "That's something that's contemplated on some campuses and it's probably something we could consider as a district."