Questions of School Safety in Los Gatos, Following Newtown

By George Kiriyama
|  Thursday, Jan 17, 2013  |  Updated 10:19 AM PDT
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After the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., parents, teachers and police in Los Gatos grapple with the question of how to approach school safety. George Kiriyama reports.

After the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., parents, teachers and police in Los Gatos grapple with the question of how to approach school safety. George Kiriyama reports.

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Balance. It's all about balance.

"You can't turn our schools into San Quentin", Sgt. Kerry Harris of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department told more than 100 parents at Raymond J. Fisher Middle School in Los Gatos Wednesday night. "They must still be warm and welcoming".

School leaders from the Los Gatos Union Elementary School District and the Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union High School District joined the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department at last night's community meeting where they promised the audience changes in the name of safety and security will happen.

"While I don't have children of my own, I think of the 3,200 students of this district as my students," said Diana Abbati, the Los Gatos Union Elementary School District superintendent. "And while I may be behind my desk most days and most nights, students are always in the back of my mind, anything we can do to make sure they are safe".

Almost a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn., parents in Los Gatos are urging school leaders and police to do whatever it takes to protect the children. Some of the possible changes that may happen in the next year or two include: adding gates and fences to surround all schools, surveillance cameras and entry locks at key gates.
 
"I think we should be looking at what other schools are doing and why and consider whether they make sense for our schools," Karen Boncher, a mother of two school aged children, said.

 While most of the discussion centered around prevention, the police informed the parents in the event of a shooting to not rush the school, but instead go to family reunification sites. Parents will be notified telling them where to go via Alert SCC, the mass emergency system for Santa Clara County. They will receive voicemail and e-mail messages.

 Harris described what would happen if everyone rushed to the school.
"Public safety personnel are not able to get to the school to render aid when parents' cars block the street,"

Parents left with full confidence their school leaders and the police will get the job done.

"I do feel very confident," Boncher said. "Just the fact that they're having this meeting shows they recognize how important it is and how important it is to the parents and for the parents to be involved."

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