Venice High Proposes Security Gate On Campus


Coretta Wilkinson and Zoe Woodrick

This past week, Venice High Administration held a Zoom town hall meeting to discuss the proposed implementation of security gates across the front of the campus. 

Safety has always been a priority at Venice High. The school community is trying to find new ways to keep the student body safe at school. One of the new proposed safety measures is a security gate, which will traverse the gaps between buildings and entry points from the front lawn to the rest of campus. 

“It really is about the safety and security of our campus and all our students and staff members,” said principal Cynthia Headrick. “Our goal is to ensure that we all can be safe and secure while we’re on campus as well as on the weekends and the evenings.” 

One of the main reasons for this project is the increase of vandalism over the past years, according to Headrick. 

“We’ve had several incidents of vandalism over the years, including two large incidents this past year, and those cost us a lot of money,” she said. “That money is taken away from our students and from our staff and the work that we’re here to do, which is really to educate our students.”

The agreed upon proposal is to install eight-foot tall wrought-iron gates in three different locations. There will be three main points of entry that will help “reduce trespassing issues” throughout the campus, Castillo said. 

Another reason why the gates would be implemented is the concentration of campus aides and monitors at the front, instead of being able to help students in other locations around campus. Too many staff are serving the purpose of monitoring this area, rather than helping the students with other tasks. 

“Our counselors and our coordinators who are out supervising students—we need them to be working with our students as opposed to monitoring the front of the school on a regular basis,” Headrick said. 

Though the Venice High campus will no longer be considered an open campus, the gates will stay open during lunch and nutrition breaks so that students can utilize the front lawn.

Though you cannot currently leave the campus, students are free to roam the lawn, and the campus is not enclosed. 

 “Our goal is to maintain the beauty and the integrity of Venice High School as well as be able to have the safe and secure environment.”

Program manager Denise Castillo, who works with LAUSD’s Facilities Services Division, presented blueprints and visual ideas of what the gates will look like. 

“We were asked to develop a scope of work that was buildable, solved the security issue, and was aesthetically pleasing, and helped maintain an open lawn which we know the community loves,” Castillo said. “We also helped identify a solution that didn’t compromise either the structural integrity nor the historical integrity of the school’s buildings.” 

There will be a gate in between the auditorium and the East building. It’ll be a long iron fence with a pedestrian gate. 

The next gate will be between the East building and the Main building. Both buildings are historical resources. The Historical Preservation Specialist asked staff to maintain the “aesthetics” of these buildings to maintain the historical value and to not compromise the structural integrity, Castillo said.

 “It was a very difficult task that our team, which is comprised of architects and structural engineers, and our construction management team presented many, many options, of which unfortunately many of which got shut down,” she said. 

The only solution that was approved was a gate that borders the front entrance of the school, Castillo said. 

The last gate will be between the Cunningham building and the Administration building. The short pillars currently in front of Cunningham will be demolished, and there will also be a pedestrian gate here, Castillo said. 

“The school plans to install some shrubs in the future right in front of the fencing to just help further blend it,” she said.

As of right now, the security gate idea is being brought to the school board, where it will be determined if the proposal can move forward. If it is approved, the gates are planned to be installed in March. 

“This has been researched thoroughly, and every aspect of the different possibilities have been put forth, and so it is a project that is moving forward,” Headrick said.

These gates are not set as a permanent addition to the school, and there is much room for change and adaptation as it’s implemented, Castillo said. 

“One day we may not need these gates anymore, and they can come out without having  compromised the structural elements,” she said.