San Leandro High Students Not Surprised by Gun Discoveries

On-campus reporter finds that students think the problem much more common than has been realized. School and police officials will hold a public forum tonight at 7 at the High School Arts Education Center.

The recent discoveries of guns both on and off the San Leandro High School campus have caused differing reactions among the student body.

One a week ago Friday and two more were last week.

But the recurring themes seemed to be that there was nothing surprising about the events and that none of the students questioned seemed outwardly worried or stressed.

“I wasn't shocked,” said junior Omar Cisneros. “I'm used to the idea that there are bad kids here.”

Bianca Hererra, a sophomore, and Lydia Calderon, a senior, both said they weren't surprised at all.

Several students seemed to think the problem is much more common than school officials believe.

Kayla Ely, a senior and member of the wrestling team, said casually, “Around here people bring guns to school pretty often.”(See Kayla Ely's .)

Calderon agreed, saying, “I think it happens with people [who] want to flash it around and show it off. There's a lot of negative attention.”

Students had differing opinions on how well the administration dealt with the circumstances.

Hererra thought that school officials responded in the best way they could. She believed that the school is well prepared for situations like this, and that their actions last week demonstrated this.

“Living in San Leandro, you see that type of thing all the time,” she explained.

But Razada Cain, president of the San Leandro Academy for Multimedia, disagreed. The fact that a student was found with a gun on campus without the school being put on lockdown or otherwise affected by it concerned her.

Cain said she felt somewhat unsafe “because of how the school dealt with it.”

Ophelia Morreale, a senior and cheerleader, also voiced concern about how the administration chose to inform students and parents.

Morreale said she first heard about the incident when her parents  got a phone call about the situation sent out by the school's automated system. When her parents questioned her about it, she had been unable to explain further because it was her first time hearing of it as well.

Ely's story was similar. She said with visible irritation that she'd heard about the incident “from a piece of paper three days after it happened.”

Given the nature of the events, the topic of safety is obviously a concern. The fact that three similar incidents occurred at or near the school within a week of one another obviously heightens this concern.

San Leandro students seem to feel worried, but relatively okay for the time being.

“It's not enough to make me not want to go back to school,” Ely said.

Cisneros did admit feeling less safe but not only because of these three incidents.

“Now that kids from Oakland are coming here and some of Oakland is really bad, I feel less safe,” he explained, correlating this to the recent events.

Cisneros also felt uninformed.

The question remains whether think the administration's future actions can ease their anxieties and prevent this from happening again.

While students have not been given specific details from any official sources, rumors about police dogs and increased security personnel presence in the future have been going around.

Ely doesn't think this will help. “Constant security will make students nervous,” she said. She thinks the emphasis should be on prevention and suggested seminars on guns and safety.

“You can stop students from bringing a gun to school, but I'm more worried about why they need to have them at all,” Ely said.

Linda September 19, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Well this is what I am talking about, how do the Student see all this, their input is so valuable, Hope that students are given the opportunity to be part of the support system on their school, there should be a hot line for them to call the school or police department when they feel threatened or want to alert the School and or police . Linda
joe September 19, 2011 at 07:17 PM
I am not sure what is more alarming: The three gun incidents or our student's apparent lack of concern? It makes me reflect as to the true origins of their perceived indifference. Is it that students see this kind of behavior around them all the time and are desensitized? Or do students cling to a perception that if they have no dealings with bad elements they will remain unaffected? I think high school students (and parents) need to be educated of the dangers and consequences associated with misusing a handgun. One accidental or intentional gunshot can have devastating repercussions that echo for a life time. My recommendation is to have SL police, if possible, provide these types of gun safety awareness programs to our students as a bridge to a higher level of consciousness. It's not the cure all to end all but at least it's a start. "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."- Benjamin Franklin.
Marga Lacabe September 19, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Joe, maybe the students are not terribly concerned because the situation is actually less scary than it would appear to be. When I first heard about the gun on campus, I was very worried as to what this meant. Someone has a gun, they are going to use it and kill and hurt someone. But when you start hearing that it's not one gun, but that likely there are hundreds of guns being brought to school at one point or another, and that this has been the situation for at least 20 years, and yet there have been no shootings in school, somehow it begins to seem less scary. Having a gun and using a gun suddenly become very different things. Now, don't get me wrong, it's a problem - if for no other reason that guns can be discharged accidentally - but perhaps it's a problem no more serious than having unvaccinated kids in our schools, or letting students have drivers licenses. This should mean that we have the time to look at the situation carefully rather than impulsively. This quick look at the data, if nothing else, has shown me that we shouldn't be making assumptions.
Sarah September 19, 2011 at 08:06 PM
People might be interested in seeing survey data from SLUSD students related to bringing a gun to school and students' sense of safety at school from kidsdata.org: Bringing a gun to school: http://www.kidsdata.org/data/topic/table/school_safety-gun-gender.aspx?loc=127,164 Safety at school: http://www.kidsdata.org/data/topic/table/school_safety-gender.aspx?loc=127,164
Alexa Velarde September 19, 2011 at 08:42 PM
If SLHS has over 2,700 students http://www.greatschools.org/california/san-leandro/300-San-Leandro-High-School/#from..HeaderLink 4.6% is 124 guns 9th grade males carrying a gun to school more than 4 times 0.5% is another 13 guns carried by 9th grade females more than 4 times 4.7% 126 guns carried by the 11th grader males 0.4% another 10 guns carried by females that's a total of 273 guns floating around not accounting 10th and 12th grade... and also, that's not accounting for the guns brought to school by kids once or twice which adds on to the percentage. That's supposed to be as bad as letting a kid rightfully earn the right to drive?? Do you have any idea what can happen with over 300 guns in the hands of adults, let alone minors??? Personally, I have tons of respect for this kids that still go to school knowing that these weapons are present; I couldn't work in an environment where I knew at any time I can get shot.
Maxie September 19, 2011 at 08:49 PM
In the article: "Ely doesn't think this will help. “Constant security will make students nervous,” she said. She thinks the emphasis should be on prevention and suggested seminars on guns and safety." Both should be done, not only seminars. The vast majority of BART passengers, especially the law abiding citizens (including children of all ages) when interviewed, said they are thankful for the BART police presence and the other security measures in place at BART. They feel protected and safe. On and around San Leandro High campus, most of those few that would be nervous (neighbors, students AND staff and other adults) with police and security around, are more often than not the ones that do the criminal behavior or thinking of doing it, have done it, or have turned a blind eye whey they've seen it occur.
Maxie September 19, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Joe, excellent point. Everything you just stated is exactly what needs to be heard. This IS a very scary and dangerous situation to many people. It is not just an assumption, this is very real. This issue not only affects the schools and staff members, but the entire community, and surrounding communities. Your recommendation is a great one. Your quote by Ben Franklin is inspiring! Any type of firearm or other weapons should never be brought to any school by students for ANY reason. Hiding that fact, or making excuses or for those that do, will only make matters worse. You can bet - anyone that has illegally brought a weapon and/or drugs to school, did not do it exclusively for "show and tell". "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Sir Winston Churchill
Maxie September 19, 2011 at 10:04 PM
Sarah, Alexa, thanks for the statistics. Wow, mind boggling to say the least! Good work, ladies! Alexa, Your comments following the stats you posted are right on! And, in your last sentence about the kids attending knowing these weapons are present - I could only believe that everyone would have to totally agree with you! Another reason why police and other security measures on campus have become vital now. They are needed in that environment!
Maxie September 19, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Linda, that's a wise idea. The students given an opportunity to be part of the support system. and, A hot line! At the public meeting tonight (Monday, Sept. 19th), it's ideas like yours, that need to be presented. Posting the link again, for those who might not know about the meeting: http://sanleandro.patch.com/articles/this-week-in-review-8bbb28c6?ncid=wtp-patch-readmore
joe September 19, 2011 at 10:46 PM
A greater police presence alone may represent a closer scrutiny of the student body as though the students are part of the problem. However, if SL peace officer presence is conducted in a supportive way by using training and safety seminars, our children will view the peace officers as less of a threat and more of an ally. Thus, achieving two goals of expanding gun violence awareness and securing the various campuses. A note from my past experience: I grew up in Camden NJ and it is not a nice city by any stretch of the imagination. It's always been a rough place, but as a child the local peace officers "walked the beat". If I got in trouble back then, those officers knew me by my first name and would notify my parents directly of any shanagins. My parents, in turn, would hold me accountable - everyone had their role to play. Growing up, I had a lot respect for those officers. Then came the war on drugs (and possibly poverty)…and by definition enemy combatants formed. The "war on drugs" also ended the era of peace officers "walking the beat" and making connections of mutual respect everywhere their beat took them. I say all this to say: Let's work together in unison for the betterment of the next generation. Remember, they are not the enemy.
Maxie September 19, 2011 at 11:09 PM
Well said, Joe!
Tim September 19, 2011 at 11:10 PM
Whoever owns these firearms needs to be prosecuted and thrown in prison. If these are "illegal" or stolen weapons then go they should be charging the parents of these kids for possession of illegal firearms. Why does the article focus on feelings of students, rather then solving the problem. Make an example out of these parents!!!
Maxie September 20, 2011 at 12:40 AM
Tim, absolutely. Good point! This article is both very important concerning the feelings of the students, and the problem. The students are beginning to take more action, and they are getting involved. It's important to have their views, experiences, and feelings heard, (as it is the same with us) , towards dealing with this problem. What good are the laws and codes, if they are not enforced! Mike Katz-Lacabe, (a school board member) on another article/page, posted California Penal Code Section 626.9, and California Education Code Section 48915(c)(1). Along with that, there are several other laws. These laws and codes need to be enforced by everyone on all criminal behavior, at all the schools, neighborhoods, and the community. And not just on a select few perpetrators. The entire community and the schools need to work *with* all Law Enforcement and their officers.
Brenda September 20, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Yes, thank you Sarah and Alexa for the info!
Brenda September 20, 2011 at 08:56 PM
Does anyone know the outcome of this meeting? Did they come to some kind of solution or agreement?
Alexa Velarde September 21, 2011 at 03:51 AM
It almost seemed like the meeting was more to get information from all sources (cops, teachers, students, parents, the community) We all said what we felt needed to be said, there were many people that expressed their response to some of the options that had been mentioned earlier such as metal detectors and sniff dogs. It was helpful to hear "why we shouldn't install metal detectors or use the dogs" in a way more civilized and respectful manner. I do see why we shouldn't have them now. Other alternatives did arise such as giving teachers more authority for discipline, opening up a text hotline for kids to text with tips of anything out of the ordinary that they may see (in a very discrete and anonymous way), also a phone hotline, allowing parents to volunteer during lunch and dismissal on what the kids call dead spot (places where the cameras do not reach). Kids requested more security guards, parents and teachers requested more strict disciplinary actions. One kid requested that once a kid is expelled, for the child not to be allowed to return to the school after a 1 yr waiting period. That's all I remember...lol I skipped school to attend ;)
Brenda September 21, 2011 at 09:57 PM
Thank you for the update Alexa. I think opening up a text hotline and parents volunteering sound like great ideas. I just hope the district will follow through on something and not just let this matter go, like they've done so many times before.
Paul September 23, 2011 at 07:12 PM
So let me get this straight Marga you are saying that having unvaccinated kids or hids driving is no more danderous than a kid having a gun at school and let's not forget pot as well? I doubt this kid has a permit for it and it was loaded. As far a gun safety classes who does not know that guns are dangerous? Anyone bringing a gun to school should be expelled end of story. Why should we have the police solve this problem. The school district should hire security to deal with this I want our police out on the streets where they belong not dealing with something the inept school disrict should be doing.
Marga Lacabe September 23, 2011 at 11:15 PM
Paul, all I'm telling you is what the data says. The chances of any teen being killed or injured in a teen-driving automobile accident are exponentially grater than his chances of being killed/injured by a gun at school, even when there are multiple guns at schools on any single day. So, while I don't want to see guns at school - or elsewhere - I see this as being a much smaller problem than that of teens driving, getting into other types of accidents, getting killed outside campus or killing themselves. If we care about teens, that's where our efforts should go into. Now, if you want to say "who cares about data?", that's OK. But then, if learning about facts and how to process facts is not important to you, why bother sending your kids to school to begin with? As for your other comments, they are rather silly. If you cannot keep weapons out of prisons or airplanes, what hope do you think there is keeping them out of classrooms?


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