LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Principals and teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District are being trained to respond to potential active shooter situations in Southland schools.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports that as students prepare to return to most schools on Tuesday, LAUSD faculty are preparing to apply lessons learned from the gruesome shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., to their own classrooms.
“I get scared because you know anything an happen at any moment,” said incoming high school student Sandy Gomez, 14. “So I just hope this school has great security.”
While details were being kept under wraps, school leaders are reportedly being told a traditional lockdown may not be as effective against a gunman on campus as once believed.
One of the proposals that the LAUSD Police Chief Steve Zipperman looked at was a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Education that trains teachers and students to fight back against an armed attacker as a last resort. Chief Zipperman told KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen he disagrees with such a strategy.
“We do not believe that it’s time for us to sit down and have conversations with third and fourth graders on how to effectively overcome an active shooter if they entered the classroom,” Zipperman said.
The district has allowed principals to make choices on how their own individual campuses will plan to protect their classrooms.
“We’ve decided that we’re going to keep the classrooms locked,” said Scott Braxton, principal of the Roybal Learning Center. Braxton met with security staff Monday to discuss the alternatives offered by the district’s training.
“We need to make sure that the wrong people don’t have easy access to the classroom,” he said.
Superintendent John Deasy said the updated procedures may also call for students to be relocated off campus amid any ongoing threat.
“Our policy reflects the fact that if you believe that you’re in a situation where you should move students, we guide you on how to do that,” Deasy said.
The president of the teachers union believes the schools need to enlist more mental health professionals, positions that have been cut in recent years.
“Those mental health professionals do more to protect the safety of students than any armed guard ever could because they’re there every day,” said Warren Fletcher, president of UTLA.
In addition to spending more than $4 million on 1,000 new campus security aides, students will likely see more cameras, increased safety patrols, and fewer open gates at schools district-wide, according to Deasy.