Some Beverly Hills Unified School District parents remain uncomfortable with school security despite several meetings on the topic and a joint BHUSD-Beverly Hills Police Department statement about security measures released Dec. 17.
“More needs to be done to make the campuses safer, particularly at Beverly High,” said Amie Alper Deutsch, whose children attend Beverly Hills High School and Beverly Vista.
Special meetings were held this week at El Rodeo, Beverly Vista and Hawthorne schools to go over security procedures with parents and hear their concerns. Those meetings followed a Dec. 17 gathering of all Beverly Hills private and public school principals held with BHUSD Superintendent Gary Woods and BHPD Chief David Snowden.
“The shooting happened on Friday [Dec. 14] and by Monday afternoon we were all meeting with Dr. Woods and the police chiefs to review security procedures,” Horace Mann Principal Steve Kessler said. Kessler did not hold a security meeting at his school because he has not received many inquiries from parents worried about security, he said.
BHPD has increased their school patrols since the shooting and are also conducting emergency drills. Other security measures may be implemented.
“We are working closely with BHPD and will likely standardize a number of security measures,” Woods told Patch. “This is not a short-term fix—this is a long-term consideration…We are not discussing specifics of our plans. Those that need to know [already] know.”
BHUSD board member Brian Goldberg said this week in a commentary that he would like to see each campus “limit access to one controlled entry…and place armed guards with metal detectors at that one entrance.” Still, he noted, that plan is impractical if the district is to comply with fire codes and keep campuses open in accordance with the BHPD-Beverly Hills Joint Powers Agreement.
Security procedures at the five city schools vary widely. Hawthorne, for instance, has its campus completely gated and closed to the public from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The high school has an open campus, with multiple reports coming in to Patch that it is easy to access the main building, even though several security officers are on staff.
“Why are we spending thousands of dollars on high school security officers who are unarmed and sit in 20-year-old golf carts?” asked Deutsch, herself a BHHS alumna.
During a visit to BHHS on Tuesday afternoon—several days after the Newtown shooting—Deutsch said there were no guards at the gate and no one stopped her from entering the school.
“When I pulled up to the glass doors I saw several security guards sitting there and talking,” she said.
Parents on other campuses expressed similar concerns and asked that the district immediately begin with simple improvements.
“Why can’t teachers be able to lock their classrooms from the inside?” asked one El Rodeo parent. “That would be a start.”
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