City Attorney Mike Feuer released the final version of his School Safety report today, with recommendations that the Los Angeles Unified School District upgrade some of its buildings and suspend the practice of using hand-held metal detectors to randomly search students — but not arm teachers or have more armed personnel on campus.
The report was issued by the Los Angeles School Safety Blue Ribbon Panel, which Feuer formed in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.
“Our School Safety Report is the final result of bringing together students, parents, educators, other stakeholders and experts to tackle one of the most significant issues of our time. Our Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendations would make a real impact on school safety,” Feuer said. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with educators, parents and residents across Los Angeles to translate these proposals into action and protect our kids.”
The panel included Los Angeles School Police Chief Steven Zipperman, retired California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, former Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith and other education and public safety experts. The panel held hearings starting in April in all seven LAUSD school board districts.
Speaking at a City Hall East news conference with some of the panel members, Feuer said some of the 33 recommendations would cost little money to implement, while others — including that each school should have a full-time psychiatric social worker on campus — would be costly.
The report did not contain any detailed cost estimate of the recommendations, but offered numerous suggestions on how to help get them funded, including that the business community develop a large-scale adopt-a- school program, the district pursue state and federal grants, and that the district advocate to include school safety provisions in a potential 2020 state school bond measure.
Zipperman, who was representing both the school police force and the district, said the district would begin evaluating each of recommendations.
“I want to stress that we will take a look at — and we’ve already taken a look at — all of the recommendations. And as the chief of the school police department, it lies heavily on my shoulders to ensure that every child that attends our schools is safe,” Zipperman said.
The report recommends that all schools have a single entry point to increase safety. It also notes that new schools built after 2013 in the district require a single entry point, but schools built before 2013 do not have this feature.
The report recommends that the district suspend the practice of “wanding” students with a hand-held metal detector to search for weapons at all middle schools and high schools until it performs a full audit of the program, but Feuer said it was not a position held by every panel member.
The report found that of the 385 knives and firearms confiscated at LAUSD schools in 2016-17, a metal detector wand was involved in only five confiscations, and most confiscations happened when students came forward to present information to adults on campus.
Aside from being ineffective, the report said some students found the searches caused a breakdown in trust between students and adults on campus, and that they would be less likely to share information with adults.
Feuer also addressed the issue of arming teachers in schools, which is not included in the panel’s recommendations but which President Donald Trump has called for.
“It seemed to me, from hearing those hearings, the panelists felt that putting more weapons on school campuses, especially in the hands of those who may not be fully equipped to use them in a crisis, was itself a recipe for less safe campuses, not more safe campuses,” Feuer said. “It’s sort of a facile response to a much more complex problem.”
The report also calls for the establishment of a robust district-wide safe passage to school program; the creation of a high-level district position to coordinate all safety issues; coordination with law enforcement on gang and crime reduction in neighborhoods surrounding schools; creation of a comprehensive safe gun storage project that assures parents know of their legal obligations to keep weapons at home safely stored; an increase in the number of mental health resources on campus including social workers and peer counseling programs; and the creation of a single, easy to navigate, anonymous system of reporting threats, bullying and other dangers to schools.