Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December the Newhall School District arranged for security assessments to be conducted at each of its ten schools. The recommendations from this study created a direction for action across the district and as the school year started changes were implemented.
The Newhall School District has two categories of schools – those that are open and share space with parks and those that are self-contained and situated on their own, non-shared parcel. Partial fencing to further secure the sites has been installed to restrict entrance points and signage around the districts’ ten elementary schools will now direct all visitors to the office to register their presence on campus.
“Our open, shared sites were designed for joint use by both the school and the general community,” said Ronna Wolcott, assistant superintendent. “We share space with city, county and home owner association (HOA) parks. We are happy to have organizations like AYSO using the school/park fields. At these sites, rather than installing full perimeter fencing that would restrict the intended shared use of the site, we have added one safety supervisor at our sites that share park space.” Safety supervisors, clearly identifiable and radio-equipped, now provide additional roving campus supervision throughout the school day to monitor adults who might walk onto school yards. In August, with the help of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the district trained safety supervisors at all schools on a protocol for encountering an unidentified person on campus.
Newhall’s elementary schools are warm and welcoming environments where staff maintains a sense of calm and security. Each school has now implemented a closed campus policy to assist in more easily identifying adults on campus and their reasons for being there. Specific times have been established when all campuses are cleared of non-staff adults after the start of the day, through end-of-day dismissal. After the closed campus times, all adults are required to check in through the office. Anyone on campus during this time who has not properly checked in through the office will be asked to do so or asked to leave the campus.
Newhall’s recent changes in physical security that includes fences and signs, along with training and deployment of personnel have been designed to reflect three principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design: Natural Surveillance, Access Control, Territorial and Maintenance Control.
Natural Surveillance occurs by designing the placement of physical features, activities and people in such a way as to maximize visibility and foster positive social interaction among legitimate users of district facilities.
NATURAL ACCESS CONTROL
Natural Access Control limits the opportunity for crime by controlling access into the site. Elements of Natural Access Control include fencing, placement of entrances and exits, lighting, and landscape design.
NATURAL TERRITORIAL REINFORCEMENT
Territorial Reinforcement defines the site and creates a sense of ownership by staff, students and parents. First, the sense of owned space creates an environment where “strangers” or “intruders” stand out and are more easily identified. Buildings, fences, pavement, signs, lighting, and landscaping are all used to express ownership and delineate public from restricted space.
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