Newhall District Schools Increase Security Measures, Safety Supervisors
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in December 2012, many schools began reexamining their security measures, and the Newhall School District was no exception.
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During the last nine months, district officials have spoken with parents and the community and conducted security assessments at each of the district’s ten schools.
Several new security measures have been implemented for the new school year, including fencing, increased staff, surveillance cameras and a closed campus policy.
Newhall District schools are either on shared-space campuses that open onto a park, or self-contained campuses. Four campuses, Meadows, Pico Canyon, Old Orchard and Valencia Valley Elementary Schools have an open campus. The other six schools, McGrath, Newhall, Oak Hills, Peachland, Stevenson Ranch and Wiley Canyon have self-contained campuses.
Partial fencing to secure these sites has been installed to restrict entrance points and signage around the schools will direct all visitors to the office to register with the school office.
“Our open, shared sites were designed for joint use by both the school and the general community,” said Assistant Superintendent Ronna Wolcott. “We share space with city, county and homeowner association parks. We are happy to have organizations like AYSO using the school/park fields. At these sites, rather than installing full perimeter fencing that would restrict the intended shared use of the site, we have added one safety supervisor at our sites that share park space.”
Safety supervisors, clearly identifiable and radio-equipped, patrol the campus to monitor adults who might walk onto school yards. In August, with the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the district trained safety supervisors at all schools on a protocol for encountering an unidentified person on campus.
Teachers will also be trained through an increased number drills during the school year.
“If our safety supervisors see something out of the ordinary that poses a danger to the students,” Wolcott said, “then they’ll be contacting law enforcement.”
If there were an active threat on any Newhall District campus, Wolcott said that school staff would respond according to what the Sheriff’s Department suggests: hide from the shooter, escape if possible or fight back if there is no other option.
To help prevent any type of threat, all adults who come to campus during school hours will be directed to the office to check in.
The district has also made some recent changes in physical security that reflect three principles of crime prevention through environmental design: natural surveillance, access control and territorial and maintenance control.
Natural Surveillance occurs by placing of physical features, activities and people in such a way as to maximize visibility and foster positive social interaction among legitimate users of district facilities.
Natural Access Control
Natural Access Control limits the opportunity for crime by controlling access into the site. Elements of Natural Access Control include fencing, placement of entrances and exits, lighting and landscape design.
Natural Territorial Reinforcement
Territorial Reinforcement defines the site and creates a sense of ownership by staff, students and parents. The sense of owned space creates an environment where "strangers" or "intruders" stand out and are more easily identified. Buildings, fences, pavement, signs, lighting and landscaping are all used to express ownership and delineate public from restricted space.
Wolcott said that parents have generally been happy with the changes, but that school security is a balance between wanting to remain an open part of the community and wanting to protect students.
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