Parents and Administrators had a different agenda when it came to public discussions. Parents and city residents expected to be able to address their personal issues of disparity and over-policing. City Attorney Feuer, however, had another effort in mind by hand picking experts to individually highlight and present topics including mental health resources, anti-bullying initiatives, restorative justice programs, and the effects of children’s exposure to violence.
On Sunday afternoon at the Holman United Methodist Church on W. Adams, City Attorney Feuer hosted a blue-ribbon panel of policy-makers, law enforcement and educators sat at a long table before an audience of about 100 attendees.
“Keeping our kids safe and secure should be our top priority,” Feuer said. “Our blue ribbon panel has been traveling across the city to hear from students, parents, teachers, administrators and experts, taking a comprehensive look at LAUSD’s school safety efforts and examining ways to further enhance safety on campuses and in surrounding neighborhoods.” The panel was formed by Feuer in response to a Feb. 1 incident in which a gun brought to Salvador Castro Middle School by a 12-year-old girl accidentally discharged inside a classroom at the Westlake district campus, injuring two students, and the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
In an unorthodox fashion, the panel, led by Feuer, allowed specifically-tapped presenters to give full and at times lengthy comments on their specific field of expertise, receiving questions from the panel afterward. The first presenter was Robert Hernandez who opened his presentation by asking the audience to close their eyes and envision life as a child of Los Angeles; underprivileged surrounded by violence and unable to know the difference. “There definitely needs to be more of an emphasis on Emotional intelligence and increased emotional intelligence,” believes Hernandez. If any has social and moral support around them, they’ll feel like they can succeed.”
But the audience just sat and listened, only given a chance to ask questions after over an hour of presentations and dialogue from the presenters. “It’s good to know the thoughts out there but at the same time, if feels like a bunch of theatrics. Students deserve better,” says Kahlilid Al-Alim, parent member and organizer of Crenshaw/Park Mesa Heights.
“Schools [and] Los Angeles Students Deserve, a grassroots coalition of students, parents and teachers working for justice in and beyond schools. I have two kids in LAUSD, one in elementary school and the other in middle school. In February and in March, my daughter has been pulled out her of class for random searches. These searches aren’t random. They’re not talking about the elephant in the room.”