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Bullet holes in school’s safety preparedness plans

Students discuss school safety in a news video.

Steven Guzman

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Rudraj Koppikar
Principal Deb Smith contacted Los Angeles Unified School District and requested that a buzzer be placed at the school’s front gate to monitor who enters campus. Aide Alex Renderos stands in front of the school for 30 minutes every Monday to Thursday.

After a recent shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Florida where 17 people were killed and an increase in gun-related incidents in schools across the nation, students and staff have begun to question school safety.

“I think that one of the biggest things that kids can do is support the idea that if you see or hear something, you say something,” Principal Deb Smith said. “We have to get rid of this idea that if you tell, then you’re a snitch.”

Schools throughout the country have begun to reassess the systems they have in place in case of an active shooter after Nikolas Cruz, a disgruntled former student a, opened fire at the Parkland, Florida, school and left 34 injured or dead behind before being arrested.

One option being explored to increase security is placing a buzzer at the front gate, according to Smith. The system, which has been proposed to the district, would entail a camera being installed and any visitors during school hours would have to be buzzed in by the front desk. This would ensure a more reliable record of visitors to the school.

“I would say that I kind of feel safe, not 100 percent, but I feel safe,” sophomore Rose Chevere said. “I think maybe having security would make me feel safer. The front gate is closed but the side gates are open and it’s pretty easy to jump over.”

Daniel Pearl Magnet High School does not hire full-time safety officers due to its size and the cost of filling this position, according to Smith.The district eliminated a full-time campus aide position at the end of the 2016-17 school year when former aide Madgeolyn Wooten transferred out of the school. Although it was not Wooten’s official position, she took on the role of a security and often times patrolled the courtyards to make sure people were being safe.

Instead, the school relies on patrolling staff to monitor the wellbeing of students. Since Feb. 22, new campus aide Alex Renderos stands in front of the school from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m every Monday to Thursday. Renderos ensures students enter the school safely and mans the front desk for the next half hour once the bell rings before heading to Independence Continuation High School, next door.

The school carries out random locker searches and random searches of students to maintain safety. Tips from JupiterEd’s hotline system are also used to respond to threats outside of school along with other issues that require attention such as bullying, drugs and students harming themselves. Teachers are recommended to leave their classroom doors closed during class as once shut, the doors are designed to automatically lock and cannot be opened from the outside without a key.

Another suggestion has been made by President Donald Trump: to arm teachers in classrooms. However, many teachers at DPMHS feel that this would only make problems worse as any student can simply take a teacher’s gun and use it for their own means.

“What you’re literally asking a teacher to do is draw a gun and kill one of their students,” science teacher Stephen Schaffter said. “It’ll be something they carry with them for the rest of their life.”

If a student on campus was to be reported for possessing a firearm, Smith and Magnet Coordinator Nicole Bootel would report to the student’s class and search their belongings and locker. After reporting the issue to the district, school police may conduct further investigation. If caught with a weapon, the student would be arrested and go through the expulsion process. However, if the weapon were to be discharged, the school would enter lockdown.

During lockdown, classroom doors stay shut, blinds are drawn and students are to remain silent. Students and teachers are told to not open doors during such situations because it’s impossible to tell whether or not the person on the other side is the shooter. Any students not in a class should try to get into a room nearest to them when the alert is issued.

During nutrition or lunch, most students are out in the courtyards, making it nearly impossible to rush everybody into classrooms. Despite the policies set in place at DPMHS and  the district, an attack during this time would lead to fatal consequences.

“It might actually mean that some kids might lose their lives trying to get into the building,” Smith said. “No kid should ever be put in that position.”

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About the Contributors
Michael Chidbachian, Online Editor-in-Chief
Junior Michael Chidbachian is a Copy Editor for The Pearl Post and an editor for the Prestige Yearbook. This is Michael’s second year on staff, and he can’t wait for his third and final year to come. During his free time, Michael loves watching a wide range of Netflix originals, listening to alternative and rock...
Rudraj Koppikar, Managing Editor
Rudraj Koppikar is the Managing and Special Reports Editor of The Pearl Post. This is his second year on staff. He enjoys reading about politics, talking about politics and petting dogs. He is an advocate for the Oxford Comma being included in the AP stylebook. When he’s not reading about politics, he’s aimlessly wandering the...
Steven Guzman, New Media Editor-in-Chief
Steven Guzman is the New Media Editor-in-Chief for The Pearl Post. This is his third and final year on staff. He enjoys spending time with his friends and going online to look at dank memes or watch Youtube. On his free time, Steven loves to game online, watch his favorite TV shows and listen to...
David Eskichyan, Features Editor
David Eskichyan is the Features Editor of The Pearl Post. This is his second year on staff, his first being last year when he was a staff writer. Eskichyan enjoys going out and doing anything, as long as it doesn’t require anything athletic. When he is not spending quality time with his bird, scaring his...
Richard Mendiola, Photo Editor
Richard Mendiola is a Photo Editor for the Pearl Post. This is his second year in staff, and his first year as an editor. Richard enjoys taking photos, playing basketball, and hanging out with his friends during his free time. He hopes to provide the best photos possible for the publication, and dominate Photo of...
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Bullet holes in school’s safety preparedness plans