Printer Friendly

CAMPUSES ON ALERT; RESEDA HIGH ATTACK FUELS SAFETY CONCERNS.

Byline: Jesse Hiestand and Sherry Joe Crosby Daily News Staff Writers

A campus where gang members climbed a fence and savagely beat a Reseda High School student is considered a model of security in Los Angeles schools, the principal said Friday.

Still, the metal detectors, roving security personnel and 12-foot fences weren't enough to keep out three attackers who police say chased down 15-year-old Nelson Gutierrez during school Thursday, beating him into unconsciousness.

The youngster was recovering at home Friday, as police searched for the three assailants they believe did not go to the campus intentionally to harm Gutierrez.

For parents, students and school administrators alike, the attack raises new, urgent questions about security at Los Angeles campuses at a time when student-on-student violence is becoming epidemic nationwide.

``We can try to make this an island and make this campus as safe as possible, and I think we've been pretty successful with that,'' said Reseda High School Principal Robert Kladifko.

Parents said they understand the difficulties of protecting the 2,200-student campus spread over 32 acres.

``Yes, we want more security,'' said Dale Jacobs, a member of the school's Parent Teacher Student Association and father to a graduating senior. ``As a parent, I would like my children to be 100 percent safe but I'm also a realist. You can't watch every corner of the school, particularly the back fence or the area near the park, along the wash.''

It was the back fence that the assailants scaled Thursday.

Parents reassured

On Friday, Kladifko sent a memorandum to teachers, administrators and leaders of parents groups, telling them that the beating is under investigation.

The principal also has announced he will close the section of playground where Gutierrez was attacked. It is yet another clampdown at the school since a student was shot to death in a hallway in 1993.

The death of ninth-grader Michael Ensley spurred history and government teacher Jay Shaffer to form Weapons Are Removed Now, a program that encourages students to tell authorities about kids with weapons.

On Friday, Shaffer said he has concluded that no school can be entirely safe.

``You would need bars on every window, burglar alarms on every door and a police officer assigned to every worker,'' said Shaffer, whose classroom is near the gate over which the intruders entered.

He said the solution to stopping campus violence starts at home with parents. ``Schools can't reinforce values if they aren't there to begin with,'' he said.

`Safe haven'

Such an attack on campus is rare, said Detective Joel Price of the Los Angeles Police Department's West Valley Division anti-gang unit. ``We consider high school campuses to be a safe haven, and they should be,'' Price said.

The attack occurred about 1 p.m., near the end of lunch, on a playground where students were playing handball. The three gang members walked through a wash and scaled a 12-foot chain-link fence, Price said.

``Everyone took off when they came over the fence, they were screaming,'' he said. ``They attacked this one kid who apparently didn't run fast enough.''

The student was pummeled with fists and beer bottles.

Gutierrez was briefly knocked unconscious and taken to a hospital for treatment of cuts and a possible head injury.

Kladifko said he was walking the campus when the attack occurred and saw the students running. By the time he turned the corner, the attackers were gone.

Although some students say they feel as safe as possible on the campus, others voiced concern about what they say is escalating violence.

On Friday, a small fight broke out between two students, heightening tensions.

Los Angeles Unified School District police Officer Greg Berry called the fight ``one on one,'' and ``a typical schoolyard fight,'' adding that Reseda is ``one of the quietest campuses I've ever worked on.''

Rosalva Ruiz, a 16-year-old student, said the fight reflects problems at the school.

``I saw the blood. I feel sorry for the guy. When you see blood, it's getting out of hand,'' Ruiz said.

Precautions taken

Following the Ensley murder, Kladifko started the Inner Ear Council, a group of 30 student leaders who mediate disputes and provide perspective.

The campus is enclosed by fences, and a school police officer patrols in a cart. Ten teachers and administrators supervise with hand-held radios.

Reseda High PTSA President Josie Zarate said she believed the school had adequate security.

``Do you want to surround the whole school with barbed wire?'' said Zarate. ``Not unless you want to make it like a prison. I don't think you can prevent something like that from happening. If someone wants to come on our premises, especially teen-agers, they will find a way to do it.''

Richard Caravantes, 18, president of WARN, said he feels safe on campus.

``This is one of those one-in-a-hundred incidents that could have happened anywhere. It's remote. I still feel safe,'' he said.

Still, no school is immune from the level of violence surrounding it, said Ronald Stephens, executive director of the National School Safety Center in Westlake Village, which helps campuses improve safety.

``What this tells us is that even with all the best things we can do, we can't ensure the safety of all students,'' said Stephens.

--- Daily News Staff Writer Lisa Van Proyen contributed to this story.

CRIME STATISTICS

Despite Thursday's attack on the Reseda High School campus, the number of violent crimes at Los Angeles schools has fallen by 19 percent in the past five years. The number of gun- and knife-related crimes also have declined.

Violent crimes reported in the LAUSD

1996-97 1,281

1995-96 1,252

1994-95 1,440

1993-94 1,338

1992-93 1,583

Gun-related crimes reported in LAUSD

1996-97 179

1995-96 259

1994-95 281

1993-94 280

1992-93 424

Knife-related crimes reported in LAUSD

1996-97 390

1995-96 373

1994-95 408

1993-94 393

1992-93 469

SOURCE: LAUSD, U.S. Department of Education

CAPTION(S):

Photo, Box

PHOTO Reseda High Principal Robert Kladifko examines a fence that was scaled by three assailants.

John McCoy/Daily News

BOX: CRIME STATISTICS (see text)
COPYRIGHT 1998 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Jun 6, 1998
Words:1008
Previous Article:YORTY REFLECTED GOOD, BAD OF CITY.
Next Article:SALMONELLA THREAT SPARKS CEREAL RECALL.


Related Articles
EXTRA SCHOOL PATROLS EASED SOUTHLAND COLLEGES REPORT ADDITIONAL POLICE ON CAMPUS UNNECESSARY.
HAZARDS ON CAMPUS VIOLATIONS FOUND AT SCHOOLS ACROSS CITY.
ROCK HURLED THROUGH WESTLAKE HIGH OFFICE.
BRIEFLY : COUNCIL ESTABLISHES PANEL ON TAXICABS.
L.A. DISTRICT GRAPPLES WITH CAMPUS VIOLENCE.
BRIEFLY : POLICE SEEKING MAN IN VAN NUYS ASSAULT.
COLLEGE INCREASES SECURITY MEASURES IN WAKE OF ATTACK; SUSPECT SOUGHT IN ASSAULT ON WOMAN.
ESCORTS MAKE COLLEGE SAFER FOR NIGHT STUDENTS.
SOUTHLAND SCHOOLS COPE WITH CONFLICT COUNSELING, DEBATES HELPING STUDENTS VENT.
CLOSED ROAD TO SNARL CSUN TRAFFIC.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters