LAUSD Blue Ribbon panel for school safety wants fewer electronic searches

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A question haunting school administrators resonates across the country: how to keep guns off campus?

High profile incidents at Los Angeles Unified School District campuses include a weapon hidden in a student's backpack that accidentally discharged in 2011 at Gardena High. A similar shooting happened at Sal Castro Middle School last February.

On Monday, a Blue Ribbon Panel assembled by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer presented a school safety report, which listed 33 recommendations to address everything from bullying to door locks.

One issue that is still under debate is the use of electronic wanding for random searches.

"The hand wanding searches were not an effective weapon to combat or detect weapons," panel member, California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, said.

In a 2016 report, 385 firearms and knives were confiscated, but most were found because a student tipped off a teacher. Only five were confiscated through wanding after tens of thousands of searches.

Yet, critics said the low number shows the wanding is an effective deterrent. Dozens of weapons are found stashed on school grounds every years said LAUSD police Chief Steve Zipperman. It's a possible indicator that students don't want to risk getting searched.

Others said that the wanding stirs hostility between students and teachers, who are required to conduct the searches.

A student member of the panel, Julia Macias, said the practice can set up a wall.

"For me, it was two minutes to take everything out of my bag. It was fine. For other students, there have been racial slurs, or they feel stigmatized, or it is a completely different reaction," the 17-year-old graduate said.

The relationship is pivotal, according to Feuer.

"Because of how essential it is to establish trust between students and adults. We felt it should be suspended as a result of that audit," he said.

This fall an experiment will be done where wanding will be reduced at some schools.

Other recommendations included the appointment of an LAUSD safety director to coordinate multiple safety programs that already exist, installing interior-locking devices in all classrooms, stress-safe gun storage by parents and dramatically expanding mental health resources.
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