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Educators Move to Curb Violence at Area Schools : Safety: Officials in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley take the steps in the wake of recent attacks, including the slaying of a boy, 14.

March 29, 1994|BRENDA DAY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Seeking to bolster campus security, officials in two east Ventura County school districts are taking steps to curb crime in the wake of recent violence involving students.

In Thousand Oaks, students returning from spring break next week will have an anonymous way to turn in peers who break the rules, while in Simi Valley, school officials plan to hire more adults to supervise campuses.

Signs encouraging Thousand Oaks students to "Keep Our Schools Safe" have been posted at all Conejo Valley Unified School District campuses, directing students to call a national toll-free number with information on brewing fights, drug deals or other crimes, officials said.

Hot line operators at the nonprofit WeTip program contact police, fire or school officials with the information, said Carole Klein, program manager of 22-year-old WeTip, now used in hundreds of schools nationwide.

"It prevents schools from seeing a lot of crime," Klein said.

In the Simi Valley Unified School District, officials Monday began interviewing unemployed adults who would be paid through a federal grant to supervise hallways and talk to students, officials said.

"I think it would be advantageous to have additional paid adults on campus helping students improve safety," Supt. Mary Beth Wolford said.

The efforts by school officials come after fights involving students from both districts ended tragically.

In Simi Valley, 14-year-old Chad Hubbard died Feb. 1 from a stabbing after school, allegedly by a Valley View Junior High classmate. In Thousand Oaks, a fight planned off-campus after school--two days after the Simi Valley incident--erupted in gunfire that left two Westlake High School students hospitalized.

Conejo Valley school board member Bill Henry said other school districts have had success in intervening in conflict and crime on campus through the WeTip program.

"I don't think it will do any harm and it may do some good," he said.

The youth relations assistants to be hired at Simi Valley schools would remain through Sept. 30 and have the summer off, Wolford said. The jobs were made available as part of a $2.2-million Department of Labor grant to the Ventura County Job Training Policy Council, officials said.

The jobs will be offered primarily to those who lost employment because of the earthquake, said John Absmeier, director of the Simi Valley school district's classified personnel. The county agency approached the school district with the offer of paid employees, he said.

District officials hope that one assistant at each elementary school, three at the junior highs and four at the high schools will help avert trouble, he said.

"Hopefully, these people can be the eyes and the ears for the principal, so if anything is brewing, they'll hear it and see it," Absmeier said.

Because school ends in 11 weeks, Simi Valley officials said they are working to fill the jobs as quickly as possible.

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