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Higher fencing, ID badges part of new school safety plan
TUSD safety pic
When Turlock Unified School District students return to school this fall they will see increased security at each campus. - photo by Journal file photo

After six months of extensive research and planning, the Turlock Unified School District finally released its comprehensive school site safety plan to be reviewed and voted on at Tuesday’s board meeting.

 “We have done some extensive work with our safety since the Sandy Hook incident in December,” said Superintendent Sonny DaMarto. “We have made revisions and updated based on new things we learned. For the past six months, Mike Trainer has met with a member of the Turlock Police Department and they went to every school site to identify areas that needed to be addressed.”

The biggest change in the district's safety plan will require identification badges for students in grades 7 through 12. The district will also require ID badges to be worn by staff and visitors at all times.

“We’ve already ordered pull away lanyards so the students will feel comfortable since they will be worn at all times,” said DaMarto.

Other changes to the safety plan include extending the height of locking fences from 4 feet to 6 feet and trimming landscaping to improve visibility and remove hiding areas for potential intruders.

Safety became a major concern for the district when Turlock resident and local law enforcement officer Vince Hooper videotaped himself walking around campus at Medeiros Elementary pointing out the lack of security on the campus in December 2012. He addressed board members by pointing out various safety issues that concerned him and his wife, Lori Hooper.

Since then, the Hoopers worked in conjunction with the district, Turlock PD and the fire department as part of a safety committee to help create an improved safety plan for all school sites within the district.

“We have a very safe campus,” said DaMarto. “Safety has always been a paramount with us and our students' safety is number one priority. We run a very safe school but we always strive to improve. Overall, parents should feel secure knowing that their children will be secure in our district.”

The updated safety plan will be presented before the board of trustees at its 6:30 p.m. meeting on Tuesday. TUSD board meetings are open to the public and held at the Professional Development Center, 1100 Cahill Ave.