Principal Targets

August’s North Valley Jewish Community Center shooting is still on the minds of parents and educators.

That was the feeling one got attending a recent panel on violence in schools, held at Westwood Charter Elementary School, where members of the community gathered to air their concerns in the aftermath of recent tragedies such as the JCC incident and Columbine. The discussion was sponsored by Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, through its Metropolitan and Western Regions’ Jewish Community Relations Committee.

Panel speakers at the town meeting included Genethia Hayes, president of the LAUSD Board; Marleen Wong, LAUSD’s director of mental health; and Gwenn Perez, assistant chief of LAUSD police.

Perez detailed some preventive measures employed by her police division, such as collaborating with the Anti-Defamation League how to train officers to identify and address hate crimes.

Following Perez’s speech, Wong outlined the history and inner workings of her District Crisis Teams, formed in 1984, after a deranged sniper shot at 49th Street School children.

With only 307 police officers assigned to our city’s middle and high schools, Hayes stressed that teachers, parents and community alike “all have to partner” in reversing the trend of school violence.

Added Perez, “We must cancel the notion that violence is a socially-transmitted disease.”