The BUSD Board last night approved expenditure of $89,000 to boost security and staff training at Berkeley High following the recent spate of guns on campus. It also heard from Director of Student Services, Susan Craig, and Principal, Pasquale Scuderi, on what measures had been taken so far, and those that were planned in response to the incidents.
In presenting its “Response to Weapons on Campus” report, Scuderi said the school was “mapping out the smartest way to deploy existing resources”, but that he would not be shy about asking for more.
The school has hired two additional safety officers on campus and a Berkeley Police officer is now assigned to the campus for five rather than four days a week. It has also closed one entrance to the school, Scuderi said, and is examining how it could close more, safety and fire evacuation issues permitting. And a texting facility has now been added to the anonymous tip hotline for students to report weapons on campus. The keyword for the 1-866-SPEAK UP hotline is BHSSAFE, and Scuderi said he would be relaying this information to students imminently.
Briefings with the BPD had been extremely helpful, he said, and revealed the areas where school staff need education. As he put it: “Manning tactical radio traffic during a crisis was not part of my teacher training.”
An outside consultant with law enforcement experience will be conducting a walk-through on the BHS campus next week with the participation of high school students, said Craig, who added that the ad hoc safety committee established by Superintendent Bill Huyett would meet every two weeks and be making periodic reports to the Board. Pastor Michael McBride from The Way Christian Center is also helping with student focus groups on campus.
BUSD Board Director Karen Hemphill suggested the board consider instituting a day curfew at MLK Park for under-18-year olds, excluding at lunch time. She also noted that Alameda County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matthew Golde, who, she said, made “inflammatory” comments at a parent forum last month, had not contacted the school superintendent directly. Huyett said he planned to reach out to Golde.
Issues which will continue to be reviewed over the coming weeks include whether security staff should wear uniforms (a recommendaiton of the BPD); ID badges for students and staff; transitional support for students on probation; communication channels and protocol; as well as visitor procedures.