Parents advocate for school safety measures at R. Roger Rowe

R. Roger Rowe School parents are speaking out on school safety, some asking the Rancho Santa Fe School District to explore investing in a full-time armed security guard on campus.

During public comment at the board’s March 8 meeting, parent Yann Phung said the district is in a unique position to act given its resources and that more funds could be allocated to the safety of the school.

“I kiss my kids goodbye for school every day and the thought in my head is ‘Are they going to be safe today?’ Unfortunately, these are the thoughts that enter my head but it’s just the reality of the situation,” Phung said.

On March 7, the district hosted a safety forum to share information about the school’s safety practices, provide information about planned changes to current safety practices, listen and respond to parent concerns, as well entertain ideas to strengthen school safety.

At that meeting parents proposed ideas such as enhancing the perimeter of the school by installing a wall that eliminates a sight-level view into the campus, limiting access points and contracting a safety consultant to assess current safety practices.

Parent Steven Marshall said he was in attendance at the meeting and posed the idea of an armed guard.

“There were probably 25 to 30 people here and I was stunned that there wasn’t opposition to that thought in that room,” Marshall said at the March 8 board meeting. “That was telling in this community…I think this is one we can’t miss and if we have the resources, I think an armed guard here protecting our most valuable assets has got to be thoughtfully discussed.”

In a message sent to district families, RSF School District Superintendent David Jaffe said he truly valued the discourse and opportunity to dialogue directly with parents in attendance at the safety forum.

The school has taken immediate actions regarding safety, including limiting access to the campus entrance points—access to campus during school hours will be through the front door only.

The access points near the athletic field and the two entrance points on the east side of campus by the community center will no longer be available as entry and exit points. A staff member will be positioned at the gates with the purpose of monitoring who enters campus during pick up and drop off, and all visitors to campus during school hours will be required to check in using the digital check-in system.

In regard to having a plan for emergency situations, Jaffe said staff and students currently practice in-class lockdown drills and staff will also be incorporating lockdown drills when students are outside of classrooms.

The district has also formed a Safety Advisory Committee and is working to create more opportunities for parent and staff engagement—a short safety survey will be mailed out to parents this week and there are several opportunities to provide input such as the April 3 “Java with Jaffe” with Superintendent David Jaffe; the April 19 “Coffee with Corduan” forum with Rowe Middle School Principal Garrett Corduan; and the April 24 “Pastries with Pinkerton” forum with Rowe Elementary School Principal Kim Pinkerton.

"I have had positive experiences working with law enforcement in school sites in the past,” said Jaffe regarding the idea of an armed school guard. “I do not know what the final result will be but it will be a topic of discussion for the Safety Advisory Committee to consider and make a recommendation to our school board. We are fortunate to be in such close proximity to Rancho Santa Fe Patrol who has always been very responsive and helpful in providing support to the school."

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