Berkeley Unified School District releases safety report

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The Berkeley Unified School District released a brief report on Tuesday about recent and planned improvements to campus safety for Berkeley High School and Berkeley Technology Academy.

The three-page status report to be presented to school board members at a board meeting next Wednesday calls for a number of actions that have been previously proposed during the last two weeks of district-wide discussion about an increase in firearm incidents on school campuses. The district estimates the overall plan will cost about $89,000 for additional staff and training.

According to the document, superintendent Bill Huyett has already established an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee that will include six district staff members, four parents and two high school students. The committee will review and possibly recommend ideas like requiring identification badges for both students and staff and changing Berkeley High School's open campus policy.

Making the committee on safety a permanent fixture is also being considered by the district. This committee would be in addition to the high school's previously established safety committee, which deals with other safety issues like bullying and harassment that are not exclusively related to firearm situations.

"A reason that some students feel threatened is that nothing is done when they are harassed or bullied," Denise Diggs-Ray, a member of the high school's safety committee, said at a board meeting last week. "It continues, and sometimes retaliation happens, and there needs to be some kind of process or policy adopted."

The document also says that safety officers at Berkeley High will now make hourly patrols of bathrooms and other isolated areas at the school and that the two additional safety officers recently stationed at the school will remain in place until the district further assesses the need for safety personnel. The additional officer placed at B-Tech's campus will remain until the end of the year.

Notably absent from the report was any plan to provide uniforms for safety officers at the high school, a proposal popular among parents that they said would help convey the authority of the officers. Also, despite frequent requests from many parents at last week's community forum to "listen to the children," the document failed to mention any future plans for enhancing communication with students.

The school board will receive this report and discuss its contents at the next district board meeting on April 13 at 7:30 p.m at the district administration building.


Jeffrey Butterfield is the lead local schools reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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