Security audit of La Cañada Unified School District campuses short on safety details

Although a public workshop was held Tuesday to study a safety audit conducted earlier this year on La Cañada Unified School District campuses, no details of the study were announced, with officials citing security reasons.

The audit was conducted in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. The district invited residents to attend the workshop to discuss the results, but crime experts with the Orange County-based firm who performed the audit stopped short of releasing details.

“What we don't want shared are areas we've identified as weaknesses on a school site,” said Mark Simon of T. Davis & Associates. “There are things in here that I don't want to be advertised to the general public.”

Simon gave a presentation to the school board and a dozen attendees about what kind of work his company performs. The presentation focused on surveillance, territorial enforcement, maintenance and access.

Parents who attended the workshop said they expected to hear more detailed recommendations about safety on district campuses.

“I think parents should know some of the details,” said Remo Rohs, whose child attends Palm Crest Elementary School. “I understand that we can't know everything, but we are expected to be involved with the schools.”

Specifically, he said he would like to know the experts' opinions on how fencing makes a campus more secure. The public school campuses in the district are open.

“I moved to the school district and I found it very unusual that the campuses are open,” he said.

Simon said that fencing doesn't help in situations where a person is determined to get into a building. Sandy Hook was locked and secure before the shooting, according to news reports.

“Fencing helps keep out the casual trespasser, but it doesn't really keep everybody out,” said Simon. “Someone who wants to get in is going to get in. In what we're talking about here, I don't think fencing is going to matter at all.”

During the workshop, school board members also discussed mental illness and what steps the school district is taking to prevent incidents.

Wendy Sinnette, superintendent of schools, said students can anonymously report other students. Students are informed of the tipping system at school assemblies and through counselors, she said.

At a suicide prevention panel the school district held on March 13, cards with hotline numbers and warning signs were printed for parents and students.

The safety audit was performed through the district's insurance company, the Alliance of Schools for Cooperative Insurance Programs.

Board members said they have not seen the recommendations of the security audit. They plan to review them and release information to the public regarding areas where security is strong.

Sinnette said upon reviewing those reports, school officials will seek priorities for improvement from site principals.


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