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VALLEY PERSPECTIVE

Violence at School

November 29, 1998

Regrettably, the editorial of Nov. 15, "Violence Invades Schoolyards," conveyed the erroneous impression that the shooting of two students near Monroe High School took place on the school grounds. Further, it implies that schools are dangerous places for students and staff, when the facts are completely contrary to this assertion.

The Los Angeles Unified School District's focus on maintaining the safest possible school environment on all of our campuses has resulted in a 47% decrease in crime incidents over the past five years at a time when district enrollment has increased by more than 10%.

They key to school safety has been to address ourselves to specific safety issues, to develop remedies for those problems and to keep before us constantly the important nurturing role a safe school environment plays in a student's academic development.

Monroe High School, like other LAUSD schools, has an exemplary safety record as a result of a comprehensive "safe schools" process vigorously implemented daily, the district's well-publicized and effective "zero tolerance" policy on guns and other weapons brought on campus and the vigilance of school staff, parents and students.

Unfortunately, the real problem exists between the time students leave home, arrive at school and return home--on the streets and neighborhoods surrounding schools. We need to continue, working with other community agencies, to find effective ways of reducing the threat to our young people before and after school.

Schools continue to be the safest places for young people in all of our communities--especially in view of the fact that our campuses are home to more than 750,000 people daily.

RUBEN ZACARIAS, Superintendent, LAUSD

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