YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Panel Proposes Fencing Millikan School Grounds

March 17, 1985|MARIA L. La GANGA | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — A group of Millikan High School students, parents and employees has recommended that the school be completely fenced and the security staff be increased in the wake of a January campus stabbing that left a student and an administrator injured.

The 17-member Ad Hoc Committee on Campus Climate--which was formed the week after the stabbing and two weeks after a gun was confiscated from a student during class--Wednesday released a list of 12 recommendations designed to help improve campus safety.

Although some students, teachers and parents contend that violence on campus is increasing, the committee and the school administration insist that Millikan's recent problems are isolated incidents.

"The events that precipitated the organization of the committee should not be viewed as the norm but rather as the exception to the norm," the committee report said.

School district spokesman Richard Van Der Laan said that nine of the recommendations are already in the works and that most would be in place by the end of summer vacation.

'Responsibility to Parents'

"The whole effort is to improve the learning climate," Van Der Laan said. "If there are disruptions that interfere with instruction, that is what these recommendations were created to stop. The school has a responsibility to parents to prevent any disruptions of learning, and we intend to do everything possible to do that."

Millikan Principal Joseph McCleary did not return telephone calls from The Times. In addition, committee chairman Henry Fung--who was chosen by the committee as the group's spokesman--was out of town and unavailable for comment.

However, in a cover letter to parents accompanying the recommendations, McCleary said he hoped the recommendations "would have a lasting, positive impact on our school."

One of the major committee recommendations is to fence the campus in an effort to keep non-students off school grounds. According to Van Der Laan, Millikan and Lakewood high schools have less security fencing than the city's three other high schools.

Wilson and Poly high schools are completely fenced, and more of Jordan is secured than Millikan or Lakewood, Van Der Laan said. The fencing would be installed by September.

Additional Employees

The committee also has recommended that the school, which already has three full-time staff assistants who patrol the campus, be given two more such employees to ensure teacher and student safety. Although those additional security employees probably will not be approved until September, Van Der Laan said, the district already has agreed to hire four part-time college-student aides to beef up security.

Another safety measure suggested by the group is that the school adopt a single schedule for the morning snack break and afternoon lunch period. At present, there are two lunch periods and two morning breaks. As a result, there are students out of classrooms for about two hours every day.

"This will cut the total time students are out of class in half," Van Der Laan said, "and also cut passage time in the halls." The result is a decrease in the amount of time students would have to wander the campus and get in trouble, he said.

The committee also suggested that:

- All passes allowing students to leave campus during their lunch breaks should be revoked. At the beginning of every school year, parents who want their children to get lunch passes have to come to Millikan in person to sign the necessary forms. Van Der Laan said the district strongly recommends that parents not authorize new passes for their children. In addition, he said, he thinks that having to make another trip to school will keep many parents from requesting new passes for their children. This recommendation will be implemented this spring; all passes will expire on April 12.

- The school district should re-evaluate the current disciplinary transfer program. "What they (the committee members) are interested in," Van Der Laan said, "is that every teacher be informed fully (of) the reasons behind a student's transfer into or out of their classrooms. . .. And they would prefer not to see a child with a problem at one school be given a disciplinary transfer to another, get into trouble there and be transferred to yet another school."

- The district should stress the need for parent conferences following student suspensions.

- Tardiness and truancy procedures should be strengthened. Van Der Laan said beginning April 9 student lateness would be punished by an automatic 20-minute after-school detention period.

Six Meetings

The committee, which was composed of six teachers, three parents, three students, two administrators, a staff assistant and a counselor, has met six times since January.

In addition to making recommendations, it made the following statement: "After several meetings the committee concludes that although Millikan High School is still an outstanding educational institution, there are problems (that) need immediate attention."

Copies of the recommendations, along with a letter from Principal McCleary, were mailed to the parents of the school's 2,600 students Thursday.

Los Angeles Times Articles