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Schools Making Plans for King Verdict : Unrest: Educators will monitor events and be ready to respond in case of trouble, but they don't anticipate problems.

April 15, 1993|DENISE HAMILTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

AREAWIDE — Educators in Glendale and La Canada Flintridge say they plan to monitor events after the verdict in the Rodney G. King civil rights case but anticipate little, if any, trouble in their cities.

But the mood is more tense in some Northeast Los Angeles public schools, where educators are hoping for the best, but planning for trouble nevertheless.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials have sent memos to teachers and parents alerting them that bus routes may be changed and that parents may have to come pick up students from school on that day, depending on what happens. But all schools intend to stay open.

Los Angeles Unified plans to broadcast updates on its cable TV channel, and some schools have given out emergency numbers that parents can call to get updated information.

Many schools plan to follow emergency operating procedures similar to those they would take in the event of a natural disaster. If there is unrest, students would be directed inside classrooms, doors would be locked and staff and school security officials would patrol the campus perimeter with walkie-talkies to monitor potential trouble.

At Micheltorena Elementary School in Silver Lake, which is on Sunset Boulevard near shops that were damaged by looters last year, officials say they will follow emergency operating procedures as needed.

"Teachers are talking to students, and parents have been notified that the school will be secured," school coordinator Celia Seid said.

In classrooms from Montrose to Echo Park, teachers have spent class time this past month encouraging students to write essays, draw pictures and discuss their fears and concerns about the case involving four Los Angeles Police officers accused of violating the civil rights of King, an Altadena motorist. Some are using instructional materials put together by the nonprofit Constitutional Rights Foundation after last year's riots that followed the not-guilty verdicts involving state charges against the officers.

At Franklin High School in Highland Park, Principal Charles E. Molina said he has drawn up lists of students who take buses outside the area and might require help getting home in case of trouble. They include special education, magnet and continuing education students, some of whom commute by public buses from South Los Angeles.

The school also has professional and peer counselors available to talk to students, if necessary, and has asked teachers to make the verdict part of their curriculum discussions, Molina said.

At Marshall High School in Los Feliz, where some students arrive by bus from as far away as South Los Angeles and Koreatown, Principal Deborah L. Leidner says life is going on as normal and that no extracurricular activities have been canceled.

Leidner says that she will notify her teachers by memo within 15 minutes of hearing the verdict and that they can use their discretion to discuss the news with students.

Meanwhile, in Glendale, school security officers on Monday began patrolling the campuses 24 hours a day and will continue to do so until after the verdict is announced, district spokesman Vic Pallos said.

If there is violence in Glendale, the school district will be put on emergency alert and students will be released only to parents or guardians, Pallos said. However, he does not foresee trouble.

"We had little or nothing of significance happen in the city last time and we don't expect it to happen this time," he said. "If we were closer to downtown or where the trouble took place last year, maybe we'd have a more comprehensive plan. But we do have a contingency plan."

La Canada Unified also has little fear of violence. District Supt. Jim Davis said teachers are checking their mailboxes during breaks for updates on the verdict. The district plans to make school psychologists available to talk to students as needed.

"There's not a fear of personal safety or anything like that," Davis said. However, "as students watch the events unveil on TV, that causes a lot of fear, so we deal with that."

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