The school assesses safety problems every few years in order to make necessary updates to school policy. At the end of September, Assistant Principal Galen Rosenberg conducted a panel discussion with a group of students to get their views on the school’s safety in order to help this process.
“We have an area that we’re responsible for, our campus, and we want to make sure that area is safe,” Rosenberg said. “The evidence is quite clear, based on what we did for our WASC [Western Association of Schools and Colleges] report and from student surveys that this is a very safe campus, but in the process, we want to see what else we could do to make it even safer than it is right now.”
The student panel discussion brought up several safety concerns such as the parking lot, drug and alcohol use and bullying.
“The main feedback we got from students is that the parking lot is not safe, and that traffic around the school is a concern, involving auto and pedestrian and bicycle traffic,” Rosenberg said.
The school considered a number of solutions to help solve this safety concern, which has become an issue for many students, especially at the beginning and end of the school day.
“Like any situation where a lot of people all want to be in the same place at the same time, you end up with a lot of traffic and impatient people…and there’s a lot of foot and bicycle traffic in the same area,” Rosenberg said. “Maybe there’s a way to reconfigure traffic patterns, maybe it’s worth spending money on supervision out there.”
One option is to reline the parking lot and change the perpendicular parking spots to diagonal ones, which are easier to use and may prevent accidents from occurring. However, a reconfiguration to diagonal parking spots would mean less parking spots in the same square footage.
The administration has also discussed the idea of installing security cameras in the parking lot to document any sort of accidents. Though no car accidents have occurred in previous years, reckless driving and fender benders often take place, and security cameras would likely discourage this. While this does seem like a viable solution, there are concerns associated with the cost as well as needing to implement school procedures so students’ privacy is protected.
“There’s people with reservations about [security cameras], just in terms of privacy and all the issues that people have about people being on camera,” Rosenberg said. “I think if we were to do it, we would focus on the parking lot, at least initially, but it costs money and we have to have procedures in place…that really preserves the interest of maintaining security while also protecting students’ privacy.”
Drivers aren’t the only ones that have to deal with unsafe conditions in the parking lot: pedestrians and bikers also have to worry about traffic in the lot. The issue of unsafe biking seems to stem from a lack of bike safety education—Rosenberg believes that it occurs because “a lot of students that ride bikes don’t even know that they’re supposed to follow the laws or what they are…and they’re putting themselves and other people at risk.” The school has already made plans to work on this problem.
“The freshman P.E. classes are going to have a bike safety unit this year for the first time,” Rosenberg said. “The Mountain View organization that supports bike safety is going to do a sort of workshop.”
Another likely road safety plan is installing lights along the school’s east driveway, by the tennis courts and Jardin Avenue, because that stretch gets very dark after the sun goes down and students often have sports activities there later in the day.
In addition to these issues, the panel discussion brought up the topic of student drug and alcohol abuse. Problems were mentioned with drug and alcohol use, though students noted this generally takes place outside of school or at after-school events. Overall this does not appear to be a prevalent issue on campus and the administration continues to do all it can to prevent and discourage it.
“I don’t think there’s any school anywhere that has zero use, either in school or at school-related events,” Rosenberg said. “So it’s a matter of ensuring that the use is as minimal as we can possibly make it, that students who do violate the rules have consequences…and that other students aren’t negatively affected by any peers’ misbehavior. And it’s our sense based on the data and the input that we’ve gotten that that’s the case.”
The school is faced with a similar situation with bullying. The panel discussion revealed that there is minimal bullying that occurs on campus, but some cyberbullying does take place online.
“The students that we spoke to in the panel, and from the other evidence we’ve seen…feel like the school deals with it effectively when we become aware of it, and that there is not a tolerance for bullying,” Rosenberg said. “You can point to anything that’s not perfect and say, ‘Why don’t you make it more perfect,’ but there’s only so much time and money and effort and energy, and so it’s important to allocate the time and money and effort towards things that you can change significantly and that will really improve… In this case it’s student safety, so fewer fender benders and a safer parking lot, and not tripping and falling out there in the east driveway because it’s basically pitch black.”
While several safety topics and potential solutions have been researched with the help of the student panel discussion, the transition from getting information to securing plans is not complete. The school administration plans to meet with the district administration soon and hopes to compete the new safety plan by the end of this semester.