Parents: Hale Middle School did better job handling lockdown than El Camino Real High School
Students made their way back to Hale Middle School on Thursday morning, watched over by nervous parents after a harrowing day of lockdown prompted by the daylight shooting of a school police officer at nearby El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills.
Kenneth Molina, a sixth-grader, said his entire math class was scared and uncertain about what was happening after teachers were ordered to lock the doors.
"I got really freaked out," Molina said. "We were told to keep our phones off, so it took a few hours to talk to my dad. He was really scared for me."
Many students reported being led by groups of five or 10 to the bathroom accompanied by a teacher or police officer, and cafeteria workers brought around food to keep the kids fed.
English teacher Linda Bieber's class of about 20 students were fed bean-and-cheese burritos and watched "Back to the Future" to pass the time.
At the student-dropoff line, many parents who had older children at El Camino Real said officials at Hale seemed to have a better emergency plan than the high school.
Laura Saray, whose younger daughter attends Hale and older daughter goes to El Camino Real, said she understands safety precautions are necessary, but she took issue with the way the high school's officials handled the situation.
"Unless a student brought a sack lunch, they went hungry," she said of El Camino. "They could have had a better plan. No one was allowed to go the bathroom."
Her daughter Melissa, 16, said boys in her class used water bottles in place of a toilet and the girls utilized a trash can with other students holding up poster boards for privacy. She ended up using the trash can.
"It was horrible. We didn't know what was going on," Melissa said. "On the news, I saw school people saying they let us use the restroom. They lied."
Saray noted how different the world had become since she went to high school 30 years ago.
"No one had guns or knives or weapons. We had fistfights," she said. "Now there's so much violence at schools. I'm just blown away. It's scary when you see the environment your kids are growing up in.
-- Shan Li in Woodland Hills
Photo: Los Angeles school Police officer Don Norek greets students at Hale Middle School on the day after a shooting nearby had the campus on lockdown. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times