Newport-Mesa Unified staff assured parents and teachers of the school district’s safety procedures amid concerns over a drawing by a student at California Elementary School in Costa Mesa.
Several people who attended Tuesday’s school board meeting called on the district to quickly ramp up security measures.
Some said the drawing depicted the student harming a teacher, though district spokeswoman Annette Franco denied that Thursday. She would not say what the drawing depicted.
It’s unclear when the incident took place, and Newport-Mesa officials said privacy rights limit the details they can share.
Some parents said they weren’t satisfied with what they considered a lack of answers from district and school staff after seeing a recent “heightened” police presence at the campus.
“I’m angry and frustrated and I’m not being told the truth,” said Son Vu, a room mom for two kindergarten classes at California Elementary.
Lance Yurada, another parent at the school, said parents and teachers are nervous after being told by school staff to “sit tight.”
District Supt. Fred Navarro called on his staff Tuesday to give an overview of safety protocols.
Since the incident, teachers at California Elementary are equipped with radios to give them direct contact with office staff, according to Leona Olson, district director of certificated personnel.
All school sites and other district facilities have safety plans that are updated yearly and as needed. School administrators and school site councils, which include certificated, classified, parent and student representatives, review the plans before they are sent to the school board for approval.
Navarro recently emailed parents an overview of the district’s partnership with local agencies and community members, and a meeting is scheduled for this week with two teams of employee representatives for further discussion, said Russell Lee-Sung, district deputy superintendent and chief academic officer.
Trustees Charlene Metoyer and Martha Fluor said staff should have given parents a clearer response to their concerns about the Costa Mesa incident. Both supported creating a parent advisory committee to give recommendations for updating school site safety plans.
Yurada urged district staff to create a safety council in which parents, teachers and administrators could collaborate on California Elementary’s safety plan.
“Work with us,” Yurada said. “I’m ready to jump in and let’s figure it out.”