Back-to-back school lockdowns shed light on Van Nuys campus safety

On Friday, Dec. 9, Van Nuys High School went into lockdown for a total of two times. The first lockdown occurred during the 4th period and then the second during the 5th period.

LAPD officers were spotted in the main building hall shorty after the incident occurred.

By Zachary Skolnick

On Friday, Dec. 9, Van Nuys High School went into lockdown for a total of two times. The first lockdown occurred during the 4th period and then the second during the 5th period. 

Parents and teachers received phone calls from the school’s automated messaging system. Principal De Santiago spoke and informed parents and teachers of the situation. 

Principal De Santiago’s message assured parents that the staff on campus was taking safety precautions and that the safety of the students is the school’s number one priority. 

“…earlier today a member of our school community reported a possible firearm sighting. We immediately placed the campus on lockdown and a thorough investigation was conducted. Local law enforcement conducted a thorough search of the campus and no weapons were found. We take the safety of our students very seriously. In an abundance of caution, the Los Angeles School Police Department will have a police officer stationed at our campus for the remainder of the semester, in addition to extra patrols around campus.” said Principal DeSantiago, during her message to parents.

Throughout the duration of the two lockdowns, police officers of both the Los Angeles School Police and the Los Angeles Police Department could be seen entering and exiting the school. 

Additionally, LAUSD District personnel and police detectives were seen around the main offices. 

The student parking lot is left open during 5th and 6th period, allowing practically anyone to enter the school. (THE MIRROR | ZACHARY SKOLNICK)

These two lockdowns could not have come at a worse time, following the reports of two people being stabbed across the street from Van Nuys HS on Wednesday, Dec. 7. 

“It is a bit of a yes and no, this is a school environment and there are always going to be people protecting us, but at the same time you never know when someone is going to pull up with something,” said Senior Santiago Torres, when asked about the events.

At our school, the only way in and out during a school day is through the main front door — or so you would think. 

During the fifth and sixth periods of the day, the student parking lot gate is opened to allow for campus cafeteria staff to leave. 

Once the staff leaves, the gate is either left wide open or shut, but never locked. Students take advantage of this, exciting and entering campus as they please. 

 “Anyone can just enter or exit from the student parking lot. They could run on campus with whatever they wanted, and cause harm,” Torres said. 

LAUSD’s Policy Bulletin states that “…all exterior gates and doors are locked at the beginning of classes and remain locked until the end of the school day.” 

Besides the administration, our school has campus aids tasked with maintaining the standards of LAUSD and making sure students are observing rules and procedures.

In the event of an emergency, like the lockdowns today, campus aids are our first line of safety.  

“I just had to close the doors, ask kids to get inside, and hide,” said Campus Aid Alex Duran.   

Alex was hired as a campus aid in 2012 and says he received training on what to do in case of an emergency, but he believes that many newly hired aidss did not. Coming to school each day, Alex says he feels safe doing his job, but worries for the safety of students. 

“I, as a 30-year-old man that is not having to blend into the community of kids feel very safe. If I were a 16-year-old kid who is just part of the crowd, I would definitely not feel safe,” said Alex.

With back-to-back incidents, students and parents should take time to discuss emergency producers and how to protect themselves during an emergency situation. 

Student voices are loud and impactful. Use yours.  Any safety concerns should be reported to the main office, and as always, if you see something, say something.