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March 26, 2008 > District to act on security recommendations

District to act on security recommendations

Submitted By Rick LaPlante

Reducing the number of access points at James Logan High School and using video technology to enhance security on the campus two areas that the New Haven Unified School District had previously identified and started to address are among the recommendations brought to the District in a professional security assessment conducted at the high school.

While continuing to work on those initiatives, the District also will adopt GE Security Consultants' recommendation to require students to display identification badges on campus. Staff members already are required to wear identification badges.

Starting March 31, when students return from spring break, the majority of current access points to the Logan campus will be shut down during school hours and the school's Campus Security Technicians (CSTs) will be required to check student/staff identification at all entry points. Also, the parking lot will have designated locations for both students and staff to park.

In addition, the District's independent study program will be moved to the Cabello Student Support Center, to reduce the number of students coming on and going off the Logan campus during the day.

"We have worked hard to make Logan and all of our schools as safe as they can be in a society where violence continues to invade school campuses, and we believe all of our campuses are safe," New Haven Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi said. "What the security professionals confirmed for us, though, is that there is a perception in the community that Logan is unsafe. We need to address that, and we will."

The District in November arranged for GE Security Consultants to conduct a campus assessment at Logan, to evaluate security practices and facilities and to help identify the best ways to use video technology, after the Board of Education last spring approved the School Site Council's request to install security cameras.

GE Security spent three days on the Logan campus at the end of January. The audit was "not a stand-alone, single attempt to address safety issues," Chief Business Officer Carol Gregorich said, but "one of many items that we have been working on since developing a risk-management program in 2006."

The District began planning to reduce the number of ways to get on and off the Logan campus earlier in January, after it was one of several suggestions made during a series of School Site Council discussions about student safety and school security. The District-wide discussions were initiated following the fatal shooting of a Logan freshman outside Barnard-White Middle School on Dec. 21, shortly after classes were dismissed on the final day before winter recess.

"What haunts me about that tragedy is that the young man who was shot was running toward the school because he and his friends knew it was a safe place," Jaurequi said.

In additional efforts to improve security at Logan, the District has repaired or replaced several exterior lamps and vegetation and trees will be trimmed during the break, with more extensive work to be done over the summer.

In April, the Board of Education will be asked for permission to go to bid for security cameras at both Logan and the District's Corporation Yard.

"We will start small, in the outer perimeters, and work on expanding and improving our District processes to maximize the benefits of having the camera added to our security program," Gregorich said.

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