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School lockdowns – excess precaution or essential to student safety?

A row of lockers in a high school hallway.
A row of lockers in a high school hallway.
kswx_29/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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Following the shooting of a police officer outside of El Camino High School last Wednesday, nine schools in the area went into lockdown. Thousands of students were kept in classrooms under teacher supervision, without food, water or access to facilities, while the LAPD searched the buildings and perimeter for the suspect. At some schools the lockdown lasted as long as five hours. Irate parents petitioned the schools and district officials, deploring the excessive wait, lack of information and the denial of basic services to their children--such as bathroom breaks. Educators say they were complying with law enforcement, and that student safety, not comfort, is the priority in lockdown situations. LAPD officials say student conditions are the schools’ responsibility. Although lockdowns are the most common crisis for LAUSD, the district seems woefully unprepared for such emergencies. In the wake of a recent accidental school shooting, some parents are grateful for the increased security. But were the precautions taken excessive? Can schools be better prepared for such emergencies? How can parents’ fears for their children be allayed?


Robert Alaniz, spokesman, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)