Castaic district, SCV Sheriff discuss campus safety

From left to right, Castaic Union School District Chief Business Official Linette Hodson and Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Robert Lewis discuss campus safety and security at Castaic Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Christina Cox/The Signal
Following a recent threat made to a campus, Castaic Union School District staff and local Sheriff’s Station officials met at Castaic Elementary School Thursday to discuss campus safety and security measures. “We are doing everything we can to make sure students are safe,” Castaic Elementary School Principal Stephanie Beach said. “We were in contact with law enforcement early Monday morning as soon as we found out a threat had been made at our school. Once we determined that students were safe, because he was in jail, we worked to get a protective orders to put measures in place to make sure we were safe in case of his release.” The threat was made to the campus by 34-year-old suspect Michael Petett, the estranged husband of a Castaic Elementary School employee, who threatened to harm both the Castaic employee and the elementary school. Petett is currently in police custody and charged with felony stalking and criminal threats, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. In addition to filing a protective order, the Castaic district hired a private security firm so extra personnel could monitor the exterior of campus. “The private security we hired is an extra set of eyes, they are not armed,” Superintendent Steve Doyle said. “They have the guy’s photo (the perpetrator) and know that if he shows up to contact the Sheriff’s Station.”
Castaic Union School District Governing Board members and staff, Castaic Elementary School staff and officers from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station discuss campus safety and security at Castaic Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Christina Cox/The Signal
During their joint meeting, the Castaic district also discussed the current security measures its campuses have in place that include locked gates and doors, a new ID check-in system and a buzz-in front door. “All of our campuses are closed campuses to ensure the safety of all of our students,” Doyle said. “What that means is that all exterior gates are locked on campus during school hours and all exterior doors are locked so someone can’t access a classroom that doesn’t belong there.” At Castaic Elementary, the site added a buzz-in system to its front entrance during the winter break that requires visitors to press a button before entering the campus’ main office. “Because of its layout and design, we have added a buzz-in system to the front so that includes a door bell you have to push that captures a photo of the person who pushes it and they have to be buzzed in by the staff,” Doyle said. “That’s because if someone is not manning the front counter or if they turn away for a second in the old design they could walk right through the front doors and access the multipurpose room on campus. That’s something that’s been in the works for a couple of years and we’ve been piloting it here.” The district is also piloting a Raptor Visitor Management System that requires campus visitors to  slide their government issued photo ID in a system that then cross checks it will the sex offender database from all 50 states. If someone is not approved to enter the campus, a text alert will be sent to the school principal and Doyle, and the individual will be asked to leave.  But, if a visitor is approved to go on campus, he or she will then be printed a visitor badge. “Those were all things we had been working on for the last year,” Beach said.  “All our visitors on campus have these stickers that says who they are and where they’re going.” The Raptor system is expected to be rolled out at all of the Castaic district campuses during the next two weeks, according to Doyle.
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Robert Lewis and School Resource Officer and Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Dept. Toby Coe speak to students at Castaic Elementary School following a discussion about campus safety and security at Castaic Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Christina Cox/The Signal
In the future, the district plans to hold impromptu lockdown drills at all four of its campuses in collaboration with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and the district’s School Resource Officer Deputy Toby Coe. “I think we’re going to start with an announced drill, which we already do,” Doyle said.  “Then we’ll have them come with an unannounced lockdown drill to practice at all of our schools, and focus here [at Castaic Elementary] given the situation.  All of our principals are on board.” [email protected] 661-287-5575 On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_


About the author

Christina Cox

Christina Cox

Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.