LAUSD students return to class, greeted with security changes

LOS ANGELES

Over the summer, the district spent $4.2 million to hire 1,000 new security aides to keep an eye on students. It's money well spent, according to LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.

"You cannot spend enough to ensure the safety of a child. End of story," said Deasy.

At middle and high schools, the aides in their bright vests are nothing new, but they are at elementary schools. Teachers now have the authority to move students rather than keep them locked down when in extreme danger, like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in December. These added safety guidelines are in response to the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., which claimed the lives of 26 students and administrators.

Locally, parents are pleased with the changes.

"After watching the Sandy Hook thing and other shootings at other schools, hopefully everybody will cooperate, and the kids will be safe," said Chelsea Black.

"For protection for the kids, and to look out for the kids. That's one thing I was thinking about when I was bringing my son today," said April Burnam.

The bus fleet has been upgraded as well. Brand-new eco-friendly school buses are equipped with seat belts. LAUSD Transportation Director Donald Wilkes said students' safety extends beyond these buses on the road.

"We just want to remind our motorists and our parents as they're out there just to be aware of the school buses," said Wilkes. "Be observant of the fact that students are going to be trying to get to their buses, so slow down when you're around the buses."

Students can expect a couple of other additions this year. Incoming freshmen will now need to average a "C" grade to graduate; they needed a "D" last year. Schools will also be serving healthier food to students. There will also be free health clinics that will be opening at a number of schools within the district.

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