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Random weapon searches occurred 'once in a blue moon,' Gardena student says

January 18, 2011 |  4:25 pm

Although designated staff members at Gardena High School are authorized to search students with hand-held metal detectors, one student said the random inspections only occurred "once in a blue moon."

"They would almost never use it," said student Jessica Santiago, 15. "Only if you looked suspicious or someone heard something and told a teacher."

L.A. Unified School Board member Richard Vladovic said he visited the campus six months ago and saw school officials searching some students.

"It seems like they were following policy," said Vladovic, who was a district administrator overseeing the area including Gardena in 2002, when two students there were shot on campus during a robbery.

District officials have allowed searches since 1993, largely leaving principles to decide the details of when and where to check students. A district policy memo recommends that searches take place on a daily basis at different times so they don't become predictable.

Vladovic said school district administrators would check logs on campus to make sure protocol has been  followed.

Securing a large campus like Gardena is especially difficult, Vladovic said. The school has about 3,100 students and takes up nearly two acres.

He said district officials would review their policies but "we can't control every entrance and exit at every school all the time," Vladovic said. "It would be physically impossible to do."


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