Parents, administrators meet to combat intruders

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Following the recent wave of men approaching and harassing
Gilroy youth, Luigi Aprea Elementary School administrators and
nearly a dozen parents met Monday to address the safety needs of
students to proactively combat the trend.
Following the recent wave of men approaching and harassing Gilroy youth, Luigi Aprea Elementary School administrators and nearly a dozen parents met Monday to address the safety needs of students to proactively combat the trend.

Since early August, 10 suspicious incidences have been reported, two of which occurred on elementary school campuses. Although their children’s safety is an ongoing area of concern, parents have become more cognizant of the whereabouts of strangers at their students’ schools. A man who approached and touched a boy at Rucker Elementary School Nov. 8 and another man entered El Roble Elementary School Nov. 15 and called out to a female student before fleeing on foot.

Luigi Aprea Principal Richard Rodriguez recently added an additional campus supervisor who will patrol the grounds each day. However, parents pointed out the ease with which they could walk onto the elementary school’s campus, unchecked.

Keith Miles, the father of a first grader, emphasized the openness of the campus and shared how he entered the campus recently to deliver snacks to his son’s class in one of the last portables in a row at the back of Luigi Aprea’s campus.

After parking on the street in the front of the school, he crossed the basketball court and picnic table area, making his way to his son’s classroom.

He delivered the snacks and stopped to used the men’s restroom near the playground. A younger student also came in, unsupervised, to use the facilities. Miles expressed his concern for the safety of the student, had Miles not been a visiting parent.

“I’m a good guy. I was bringing snacks to my son’s class,” Miles said at Monday’s meeting. “But if there had been a bad guy in there with that kid … ” he trailed off.

“We need to be strategic about where we place people throughout the day,” Gabrielson said. Rodriguez has walked the perimeter and identified areas that need extra supervision.

Visitors are supposed to check in with the office staff first, before proceeding to their destination, but no sign exists to indicate this rule. Rodriguez sad that parents can expect a sign to be posted so that visitors aren’t given the opportunity to “play the ignorance card,” as one parent put it.

Rucker Elementary School erected fencing to deter strangers from entering its campus and Gilroy High School uses security cameras as a surveillance measure.

“A sign will keep honest people honest,” said the woman who declined to give her name.

Gabrielson invited parents to share their concerns at an upcoming Feb. 11 open meeting with the city. Receptive to the issues parents raised,

Gabrielson informed them that the district was looking at the possibility of adding security cameras or additional fencing. He also reminded them of the $135 million “wish list” of projects that the district has scheduled for the next 10 years.

Gabrielson encouraged parents to attend district meetings so the district could anticipate the issues that they will have to address in the future that could require the allocation of additional funds.

“It takes the education of an entire community,” Rodriguez said of the safety of his students. “It’s a balancing act. We want a campus that is open and welcoming to the community but provides a safe and secure environment for the students.”

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