Mountain View parents call for tighter security after stabbing

Posted: Tuesday, May 08, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Some parents say they've been complaining about safety at Mountain View Elementary for a long time and are calling for more supervision of children before school.

''Literally there's nobody watching the kids,'' said Kim Watts, 27, whose second-grade daughter attends the school. ''There should be more people out there.''

Parents are not the only ones upset. About a month ago, someone fired gunshots into houses near the school while kids were in class. Since then, school staff members have been so worried about security that the school has had weekly staff meetings to discuss discipline and safety, said Todd Hess, an Anchorage School District supervisor for elementary schools.

The school had a lockdown drill -- locking classroom doors from the inside to keep out any intruders -- just last week, Hess said. The practice helped Monday, he said.

Superintendent Carol Comeau defended the school system's security policies Monday but said she will look into improving them.

''It's very sad. We don't want it to happen ever,'' she said. ''But when a crisis happens, the test is what we do when it happens.''

The district does hire adults part-time to supervise the playgrounds at lunch. An aide or teacher watches the children outside beginning at 8:45 a.m. Elementary schools start at 9 a.m.

Comeau said the district doesn't have staffers available to watch children much before school opens, but said she will consider the need for more before-school supervision at schools that provide breakfast for students beginning at about 8:25 a.m.

Not everyone feels the school is unsafe or that the district should be responsible for kids before lessons begin.

Vincia Bruno has lived near the school for 10 years and said that, overall, she hasn't been worried about kids' safety.

''For the most part, it is pretty quiet. The kids all know each other and look out for each other,'' she said.

Randy Smith, head of the Mountain View Community Patrol, reacted angrily to suggestions that it's a dangerous neighborhood.

''Mountain View is probably the safest neighborhood there is in Anchorage,'' he said. ''We've worked for years to make this a safe place. There's no way you can defend against a guy who shows up on a playground with a knife.''



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