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In Santana's wake, local schools stress prevention

March 11, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

In the wake of the shooting at Santana High School in Santee, Imperial Valley school superintendents met Thursday to discuss emergency contingency plans in each of the districts.

John Anderson, Imperial County schools superintendent, said the group met to review plans already in place.

While he praised the schools for "a good job of updating plans," Anderson added the administrators "can't anticipate everything."

Stressing the need for prevention and for students to have an outlet to report to, he noted the county Office of Education has student assistance representatives at schools who are always accessible to the students.

The need for prevention was a sentiment expressed by many school administrators. Brawley Union High School Superintendent Garth Isom said while a safety plan already is in place, he would like to focus more closely on preventive measures.

On Friday Isom met with Brawley police and Fire Department officials, as well as the high school's crisis team, to review the school's safety plan.

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Isom added there is excellent communication between the students and the staff.

"The kids are open here," he said. "If they hear anything, they will tell someone on staff."

Practicing the safety plan is the emphasis of Imperial's Ben Hulse Elementary. Principal Nancy Lay said the school had a drill Tuesday to practice the newly implemented policy of how to handle a threatening situation. Students were notified by teachers about the drill and parents were sent informational letters before the drill was staged.

Lay said teachers discussed the drill well in advance with students so no one was taken off guard or frightened. She said the drill "went well."

Holtville High School also has had practice this year on its safety plans. Principal Bob Winecoop said the school had a "false alarm" early in the year, which enabled school officials to put into practice safety procedures.

He said improvements to the existing plan are being formulated.

Nancy Merino, principal at Calexico High School, said the school has a counselor on site for the project "Ending Needless Violence," as well as two police officers who are trained in counseling.

The school sent information to students regarding the school's policy on weapons and what students should do if they hear about weapons on the campus.

Valley school administrators stressed that contingency plans already are in place and are being reviewed.

"We take it seriously," Isom said.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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