La Cañada Unified School District reviews security

Following up on requests from parents concerned in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, La Cañada public school officials ordered a security audit and will release its findings during a public workshop next month.

“The audit findings are currently being compiled,” La Cañada Unified School District Supt. Wendy Sinnette said Tuesday during a report to members of the school board.

According to Sinnette, an audit of district campuses was performed on Jan. 29 and 30 by Tim Coffey, an Orange County-based crime prevention/security expert recommended by the district's insurance provider.

Last month, several La Cañada parents expressed concern about student safety following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which took the lives of 20 first-grade students and six adult staff members.

Parents urged the district to consider a wide range of solutions to ensure student safety.

“Part of the outcome of that meeting was no one here had the expertise to really identify what would be action items that would improve the safety or security of campuses, and what would be the things that would only enhance the perception of security,” Sinnette said.

La Cañada Unified is one of many school districts around the country discussing the school safety issue. Some districts are considering the installation of metal detectors and classroom cameras, the hiring of security guards, educating students on the effects of bullying, gangs, weapons and substance abuse, and providing safety training to school staff.

According to Shant Hairapetian, the high school's representative to the school board, La Cañada High School students generally would not be in favor of the installation of security fencing.

“The students did agree with the fact that there should be safety measures, but they didn't like the idea of fencing, and there are multiple reasons why,” Hairapetian said.

“They said the idea of fencing would kind of ruin the atmosphere at school. It would have a more prison-like feel.”

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