School assures safety

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

In the wake of several violent school shootings, the attention of the nation has turned to issues of school safety.

In Clovis Municipal Schools, safeguarding students has long been a top concern, according to school officials.

In response to the 1999 Columbine school shooting, local school officials beefed up safety precautions, according to Clovis Schools Community Relations Director David Briseno.

“We have been proactive,” Briseno said.

He said the safety measures in place are sufficient.

Securing campuses against intruders is a major part of the district’s plan to keep students safe, Briseno said.

Most campuses in the district funnel traffic through one main entrance and keep other doors locked, he said.

“The school that presents the most challenge is the high school,” Briseno said. “It is next to impossible” to limit entrances at the sprawling campus, he said.

Clovis Schools also employs school resource officers who are members of the Clovis Police Department, school officials said. Those officers monitor schools in the district on a rotational basis, school officials said.

In the last year, additional measures have been taken to increase student safety, officials said.

School officials hired another resource officer, bringing the number of officers in the district to two, officials said. A goal of officials is to station resource officers at all three district junior high schools.

Fences were also installed at a number of campuses, including La Casita Elementary. Briseno said officials want to install fencing at other campuses, as well.

School employees also went through training on how to respond to potentially dangerous situations, Briseno said.

On a national level, the Bush administration plans to unite education and law enforcement experts for a conference on handling the problem and discuss federal action that can help communities prevent violence and cope in its aftermath, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters Tuesday.

Three schools have been hit by deadly attacks in the past week.

A gunman killed himself and five girls Monday at a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania; on Friday, a 15-year-old Wisconsin student shot and killed his principal; and on Sept. 27 a man took six girls hostage in Colorado, sexually assaulting them, before fatally shooting one girl and killing himself.

— The Associated Press
contributed to this report.