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RESEDA : Special Education Center Burglarized

July 23, 1993|SCOTT GLOVER

At least two VCRs that are crucial educational aids for severely handicapped youngsters were stolen from a Reseda special education center, the school's principal said Thursday.

"This is just so unsettling," Lokrantz Special Education Center Principal Cecellia Simmons said. "We were having such a good summer--this is really a rude awakening."

Thieves smashed several windows to gain entrance to the center Wednesday night or early Thursday, Simmons said. The extent of the loss was under investigation, and a damage estimate was not available.

About 250 students ranging in age from 3 to 22 attend Lokrantz, one of six Los Angeles Unified School District special education centers in the Valley.

Simmons said the district cannot afford to replace the equipment, and teachers would be forced to spread scarce resources even thinner. The stolen VCRs, for example, mean as many as 20 teachers will be forced to share three of the machines instead of five.

Teachers say the video machines are a crucial tool in reaching the impaired students, because many have short attention spans and do not respond well to traditional aids such as textbooks.

Simmons said she and her staff would try to put the incident behind them. "We'll just have to keep on trying to make the best of the summer as we can," she said.

The theft was unsettling to some Lokrantz teachers who remember a series of burglaries at the school two years ago.

"Our fear quite honestly is that they are coming back," teacher Marilyn Palmer said. Palmer said teachers are taking extra security measures and will lock up valuables such as computers.

"It's just unbelievable," she said. "You look at this place and you see all the wheelchairs. Who would do this?"

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