HomeSchools & YouthLa Cañada Flintridge School Board Revisits Campus Security Measures

La Cañada Flintridge School Board Revisits Campus Security Measures

The La Cañada Unified School District Board of Education listened to an update regarding safety, security and wellness in its Tuesday meeting, and how the district learned from the recent swatting event at the community’s public high school.
Associate Superintendent of Technology Services Jamie Lewsadder provided the update to the board and went over some goals for the district’s Safety and Security Committee and key takeaways from recent events.
Lewsadder sought to set the tone by stating that the district wants to present the best security and safety decisions without sacrificing educational quality.
Categories that the committee has wanted to focus on include promoting the well-being of staff and students, controlling access and monitoring activity across all of the district’s school sites, increasing speed and quality of incident response and developing and refining policies and practices.
In working toward those goals, the district strives to rehearse responses for incidents with students, staff and parents with monthly drills, providing mental health and well-being support through each school’s wellness center and strengthening its partnership with first responders and the city.
“Now the high school has a protocol [that] anytime 911 is called and somebody’s coming on campus, they send a text message out, and all the staff get it to know to expect if they are seeing medical professionals,” said Lewsadder. “What we learned is the more information we can offer, that creates that sense of calm for the staff.”
Lewsadder also mentioned some staff training that allows schools to stay observant of who is on campus and practice greeting questions that can let campus officials know what a person’s intentions may be. She also added the tip line that is available for students or parents to use if they are worried about an individual’s behavior or safety.
Board member Octavia Thuss asked how many tips school officials are receiving, and Lewsadder said that the district has received only 10 this year and that no students have tried to abuse the system.
In working with the district staff, Lewsadder presented possible ways that the district could update the perimeter at La Cañada High School to close up any opportunities for anyone to come on campus during school hours.
“While we were able to enclose the elementary campuses pretty easily, the high school is quite porous,” said Lewsadder. “When we were looking at this during our safety and security committee meetings, there was a pretty divided response on whether we enclose the campus or not. So, we made small upgrades to reduce the number of openings.”
She told the board that putting an automatic gate at the back of the school, near the football field, could help, allowing only the right personnel to enter with key cards.
Lewsadder also mentioned that a section of campus near the basketball courts could be bolstered with fencing. Another possibility was adding a fence, closing off the open part of the front campus, but Lewsadder didn’t recommend it to the board because it would change the school culture and prevent kids from eating lunch there.
Lewsadder added that the school has increased the size of its security team, and Board member Dan Jeffries suggested that its members wear vests to be more visible as a security presence on campus.
She offered key takeaways from the April 22 swatting incident at LCHS, where the school received a call from an individual threatening to come with an AR-15 style rifle. These included improving communication practices and training; Lewsadder added that along with sending clear instructions and information of what teachers should do, the district should also provide a script that teachers read to students, so everyone’s actions are coordinated.
She also noted that the district was competing with social media to inform the community of the incident and that a Facebook post was made six minutes after the school went into lockdown, before the district had sent a message out to families.
“We really have the goal of accurate, timely information, and we didn’t want to go too quick and have to retract [any information],” said Lewsadder. “We wanted to make sure that things were clear.”
Board member Joe Radabaugh mentioned the risk of having the city send out possibly inaccurate information about a school incident, and LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette noted that after receiving the threat, she called La Cañada Flintridge City Manager Daniel Jordan and Capt. Robert Hahnlein of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station.
Lewsadder ended her presentation with a summary and reminded parents to make sure they are getting school emails and if the community has any questions or ideas, that they are welcomed to bring it to the district.
LCF resident David Haxton commented on the district’s presentation on adding fencing to the high school.
“There was no discussion this evening about where students should be entering, and how that should look,” said Haxton. “In my view, that’s sort of key that you need to have limited access points at the high school, and you need to have somebody in the morning at each of those access points.
“I think [you should] focus less on fencing and more on access,” he added.
To view the LCUSD tipline, visit

First published in the May 16 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.


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