Board considers school security measures

A variety of security changes, including the installation of fences and interior door locks, could be implemented at La Cañada Unified School District campuses.

The school board presented the possible security additions on Tuesday night and made plans to study the cost of going forward with the measures. Orange County-based T. Davis & Associates conducted a security audit on January 30. Findings were released to the district in March, but officials did not release them to the public, citing security reasons.

Michael Leininger, the district's assistant superintendent for facilities and operations, said he met with each school's principal to review the security recommendations. Several of the security changes, such as fencing and additional signage, were being recommended for all four sites — La Cañada High School, La Cañada Elementary, Palm Crest Elementary and Paradise Canyon Elementary.

All of the schools want additional fencing or gates for security and as a way to control how visitors and parents enter the campus, said Leininger.

"I think [the principals] are interested in having the ability to lock down campus," he said. "And the ability to funnel people through the front."

The cost for fencing off all schools was estimated at $150,000, he added. The board directed district staff on Tuesday to obtain cost estimates for the other recommendations.

School board member Susan Boyd said a number of parents have expressed opposition to building fences around the open campuses. The fences also might not stop a determined trespasser from entering a campus, representatives from T. Davis & Associates told the district in March.

"Our security people say putting up a fence is not a way to stop people who want to do damage," said Boyd. "I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with saying, well I want to lock down the campuses because it's easier to control parents."

Wendy Sinnette, superintendent of schools, said the district still had to assess what it can afford.

Overall, the district will study moving forward with 50 security measures across the campuses. Possible changes to La Cañada High include installing interior door locks, gates to stairwells, and protective screens to second- and third-level floors on buildings. At La Cañada Elementary, security recommendations include installing a windscreen on the playground fence and replacing security cameras. Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon elementary schools were both advised to add lighting and perimeter signage. It was recommended that all campuses post signs for WeTip, an anonymous crime-reporting hotline.

Although Sinnette said in March that the suicide of a La Cañada High School student on campus would impact the security audit findings, Leininger said Wednesday that he doesn't think any of the recommendations are related to the suicide.


Follow Tiffany Kelly on Google+ and on Twitter: @LATiffanyKelly.

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World