By Woo Han
The Mirror Staff
By Shayda Shevidi
“School safety is peace of mind, that a student knows that they can come here and they don’t have to worry about being harmed, and I think that’s important,” declared our school principal, Ms. Yolanda Gardea
Safe and Sound
FEATURE: What is Safety to you?
“Many California school districts offer their staff little or no guidance to when police should be called to control student behavior,” the LA Times said in a striking article about school safety. The article claimed that “most districts have memorandums of understanding with local law enforcement, but many of these documents contain ‘deficient, vague, or even non-existent policies’.”
But things are a bit different at Van Nuys High School. The school police work closely with the administration to ensure that all students are safe.
“I feel that the safety surrounding Van Nuys High School is in really good hands,” said School Police Officer M. Estevez. “We have administrators, staff, and deans that work well together with law enforcement including myself and my partner Officer M. Caruso to make sure that you guys are safe.”
He also says that because the administration handles problems so efficiently, the school police are rarely called. All issues are quickly resolved by the administration, and school police only intervene in low-level offenses, which can be defined as any sort of infraction or crimes that require citations.
Ms. Dora Lopez is a part of the school administration as well as one of the two Deans on campus. Before becoming an administrator, she worked in education for almost 17 years as a history teacher. She provided some insight on how the administration works within the school to maintain safety.
By conducting daily random safety searches in classes and lockers, the Dean’s Office ensure that no student has weapons or any objects that could potentially harm other students.
A random search involves using a metal detector to scan the randomly selected students as well as their backpacks. If the detector goes off, the backpack is thoroughly inspected.
Although the searches in many schools were criticized in the LA Times’ article for being conducted by the school police, the searches at Van Nuys High School are conducted by the Dean’s Office, under the authority of the school administration.
Random checks serve primarily as a deterrent, making potential offenders aware that they could be checked and eventually caught if they bring weapons or illegal drugs to school.
Due to the frequent checks, Dean Lopez, along with Dean Doug Cloutier and other security staff, have reduced campus crime to a minimum.
It isn’t just up to the administration to do all the work, however. Students are also responsible for maintaining a safe campus by reporting any issues they are aware of to the administration.
“School safety is peace of mind, that a student knows that they can come here and they don’t have to worry about being harmed, and I think that’s important,” declared Principal Ms. Yolanda Gardea.