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School Safety Forum Draws Overflow Crowd

The United Parents of Culver City hosted the forum, which allowed parents and community leaders to address a variety of concerns in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012.

It was standing room only last week at the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium Garden Room where the United Parents of Culver City hosted a school safety forum, to address parental concerns in the wake of the Dec. 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Along with scores of parents, community leaders were also out in force including Mayor Andy Weissman, Vice Mayor Jeff Cooper, Councilmembers Micheal O’Leary and Jim Clarke, and School Board members Laura Chardiet, Nancy Goldberg and Patricia Sievers.

The panel comprised of Culver City Unified School District Superintendent Dave LaRose, Culver City Police Chief Don Pedersen and School Resource Officer Al Casillas, all of whom took time to talk about the school district’s current safety procedures and changes that have already been made in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Chief Pedersen also talked about emergency drill procedures and the RUN HIDE FIGHT training that the children receive. He also added details about small things that can make a difference in an emergency situation, including turning off your phone ringer when you are hiding.

School Board President Kathy Paspalis, who grew up not far from Sandy Hook and read the Sandy Hook Promise to attendees, which states:

I Promise to honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  

I Promise to do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.

Click here to sign the promise

UPCC President Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin told the attendees the forum was an important event because, “After Sandy Hook, our collective lives were changed. Our hearts were broken. We felt that we had to do something… So we knew that we had to bring people together to talk about safety – how we all can work together to help keep our children safe.”

Wisnosky Stehlin said that safety was not political and the purpose of the forum was to allow all in attendance to put forward ideas to help improve safety at Culver City schools.

“We want to share ideas and concerns parents have,” she said. “We may have some great ideas, some not so great ones, and fortunately we have leaders in our city and district who are excellent listeners and partners.”

In the month leading up to the forum, parents were encouraged to send in questions online, may of which Superintendent LaRose addressed on the district’s online safety page and were reprinted here on Patch. You can see some of those questions and answers here and here.

At the forum itself, most of the questions were directed at LaRose including whether panic buttons were a good idea and if the district should have a door buzzer system.

The district’s anti-bullying program was also discussed at length with several community members saying it was a good idea in theory but didn’t go far enough.

Other questions that were posed at the forum included:

  • How are the kids in the before and after school programs protected?
  • What exactly does the SRO do?
  • What does the new video surveillance show? Who can see the video feed?
  • What are the safe routes to school, traffic, safety, etc.
  • How does a kid in school know who to tell and what to tell if they see something that doesn’t seem right?

Wisnosky Stehlin told Patch following the meeting that attendees felt reassured “that the district cares and is doing everything that they can, and they are also encouraged that they are open to ideas. The lines of communication are open. This is exactly what I personally was hoping for and it’s what I have been seeing, and for that I am grateful to be living in Culver City.”

Did you attend the forum? Were your concerns addressed? What did you think of the forum? Tell us in the comments section, below.

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Steve Levin January 30, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Video of the safety forum is available online at http://www.UnitedParentsCulverCity.com/safety
Meghan Sahli-Wells January 30, 2013 at 05:22 PM
I am sorry to have missed the Forum due to a trip to DC, but am happy to hear how successful it was in raising awareness and answering important questions.
Vanessa January 31, 2013 at 12:39 AM
It's interesting. I did attend the forum, but unlike, apparently, many if the other attendees, I did not leave with a sense that the district is doing everything they can or that they're open to ideas. My children attend El Rincon and have had several instances where their safety was jeopardized and necessary changes have not been made or addressed. Officer Casillas nearly boasted about his popularity with the children, but my children and their ER peers don't know him. ER continues to be treated as an afterthought. We're really tired of being pacified by the district and now CCPD. We know we struggle with parent involvement and those of us who are committed to the improvement of our school do what we can. I appreciate UPCC for organizing this forum. Nonetheless, I walked away feeling more frustrated than encouraged. CCUSD needs to put aside their own perception of El Rincon and actually listen to the parents' concerns. CCPD could patrol more, have a greater presence and, if they really want to make a difference, actually consider having another SRO. There's a lot that can be done to make our schools safer IF that is their goal at every school and not just their most celebrated campuses. I'm not an angry person but if this comment comes off as such, it's only because El Rincon parents feel neglected and like our children are not valued as much as the children at other schools.
Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin February 01, 2013 at 06:41 AM
Hi Vanessa, it is really important that you email your concerns to the superintendent. I know that he is open to hearing from parents.

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