March 29, 2018
Dear MBUSD Staff:
We wanted to provide you with an update on our discussions surrounding school safety and security. Over the past few weeks, Director of Maintenance and Operations Paul Ruta and I have completed site walks at our seven K-12 schools with our principals, our MBPD partners, and the architect who is designing our Measure C projects. The site walks have fostered extended conversations about the safety recommendations and priorities we share. Our mutual goal is to ensure our schools, staff, and students are as protected as we can make them. While we do not yet have the written reports that MBPD will provide as an outcome of their assessments, there are several takeaways that we can begin working on right away.
One reminder that MBPD emphasizes for all sites is the importance of all adults on campus having identification - this means that all staff should be wearing their staff ID badges at all times on campus, and that all visitors should be wearing a visitor’s badge issued by the main office at all times. We appreciate everyone’s help in making sure that this expectation is consistently followed and enforced.
Another important part of our discussions relates to what MBPD refers to as “natural surveillance.” As they repeatedly reminded us, “there are more good people out there than there are bad people,” and so MBPD feels that the more visibility there is onto our campuses and play fields, and into our classrooms, the better. This means that MBPD recommends, to the extent possible, that we take actions such as trimming and clearing shrubbery that may block the view of our campuses, keeping blinds up, and removing papers, posters, student work, or other items that block teachers’ views to the areas outside of their classrooms and principals’ and parents’ views into our classrooms. The idea here is that during normal circumstances, MBPD recommends as much visibility as possible, and in an emergency we would want to quickly block off visibility.
We will also be continuing to look at a number of areas that may need to change in order to improve security:
- Signage and room numbering to ensure that anyone coming to campus knows where the main office is and how to get to whatever location on campus they need to get to
- Systems to monitor campus entry and exit throughout the day, including at drop off and pick up times
- Procedures for key inventories and key control (i.e., knowing exactly who has which keys, making sure that no keys are unaccounted for, and making sure that we are striking the right balance between campus access for people who need it and campus security for all)
- Systems to ensure that all emergency access routes (including fire lanes) are kept clear throughout the day
- Refinements to emergency procedures to ensure that:
- K-5 students have access to ID cards during emergency situations (we are examining options to accomplish this)
- our DHH students and other special needs students are able to respond appropriately in all emergency situations
- we are prepared to effectively utilize social media to keep parents informed and to provide instruction to parents during emergencies
- all substitutes and volunteers know what to do in emergencies; and
- we know who on our campuses holds CPR and First Aid training certifications
As you may know, the City Council has recently allocated $1M to support school safety efforts in our schools. In conjunction with the safety assessments, we are currently in discussions about the best way to utilize this generous contribution. There are a few things that were themes on our walks:
- Perimeter fencing at the front of our schools; this is currently lacking at Grand View, Pacific, Pennekamp, and MCHS
- Video surveillance systems at all of our campuses
- Operable blinds in our classrooms and office areas
- Clear directional signage throughout all campuses
- Shatterproof film on all windows (this is a very expensive and labor intensive process, and we will look at doing this as we build new buildings and modernize existing ones through the Measure C process)
We may not be able to accomplish all of this with the funds that the City provides, but we are grateful that these funds will allow us to make significant headway, and we will continue to work to accomplish the rest through our bond program and using other resources that become available.
We are fortunate to work in a community that has come together to protect our children; the partnership and support that we receive from the Manhattan Beach City Council, the Manhattan Beach Police Department, parents, community members, and all staff is inspiring. This letter contains a long list of practices, policies, and campus improvements that have been recommended. We will work to implement some of these in the very near future, and we will look to find ways to accomplish all of them over time.
Thank you for your continued attention and vigilance in keeping our campuses safe, for sharing your feedback, questions, and suggestions on this topic, and for everything that you do every day on behalf of the students we serve.
Have a wonderful and relaxing Spring Break. We look forward to seeing you in April as we head into the home stretch and continue the work of ensuring everyone’s safety.
Dawnalyn Murakawa-Leopard, EdD
Manhattan Beach Unified School District
325 South Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266