In response to concerns from parents, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District is circulating a survey to gain insight into how the district should secure access to three elementary schools.
Adams and Victoria in Costa Mesa and Roy O. Anderson in Newport Beach are the only three of the district's 22 elementary schools that do not have fencing around the instructional areas, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.
The survey, which is accessible online, asks respondents to specify the school their children attend or the one in closest to their home. The rest of the survey's questions are then tailored to that particular school.
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- Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
The Sandy Hook shooting in December prompted much discussion about school security in Newport-Mesa, Boss said.
"We have visitor protocols at all the campuses, but when you don't have an actual structure, there have been a few issues," she said.
They include students running off campus and community members coming onto the campus to use the restrooms after playing at nearby community parks, Boss said.
"Obviously, that is a concern with kids in the instructional area," she said. "There are also community members who live in that area that have enjoyed the open spaces. We want to make sure their voices are heard as well."
Todd Ellis, whose son attends kindergarten at Adams Elementary, voiced concern during Tuesday's school board meeting about the lack of fencing at the school.
His son has been able to run off campus three times since he started school in September, he said.
"I don't know if you would be able to live with yourselves if something happened to my son," he told the trustees.
The first two times, staff members stopped the 4-year-old as he approached the front of the school.
However, the third time he slipped out unseen by staff and was found by another student's parent, said Todd's wife, Teleha Ellis.
"My biggest concern is him getting out and getting into the street," Teleha Ellis said. "I'm also worried about keeping him on campus and someone else coming onto campus to abduct him."
Newport-Mesa has implemented or is in the process of implementing measures like locking classroom doors, cameras, panic buttons, visitor identification procedures, security drills and perimeter fencing, according to a news release.
The district's survey, available at web.nmusd.us, allows parents and community members to select which fencing option they prefer, from partially open to completely fenced.
The results of the survey will be provided to trustees at the Nov. 12 board meeting.