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Incident at Roosevelt Elementary Prompts Changes to After School Safety Protocols
By Jorge Casuso
August 27, 2018 -- Officials at Roosevelt Elementary School are boosting security and changing safety protocols after an unknown woman last week tried to persuade a seven-year-old student to leave the campus with her, school officials said.
The boy was waiting to be picked up by his parents Thursday after school "when an unwanted female visitor" entered the 9th Street gate at the Santa Monica school on Montana Avenue.
"She spoke to our student to persuade him to come with her," Roosevelt Principal Lynda Holeva wrote in an email to parents.
"Our student refused and went to a Playground Access adult to get help with calling his mother," she wrote. "His mother came to school immediately and reported the incident to the police and to me."
Holeva said she has asked police for more patrols at drop off and dismissal times and communicated this incident to the District's Risk Management Director.
Sgt. Roberto Villegas, a Police Department spokesman, said extra officers have been deployed after school but added that the incident is not being treated as an attempted kidnapping.
"We're not quite yet deeming it an attempted kidnapping," Villegas said.
Instead police, who are investigating the incident, are treating it as a possible case of "juvenile annoying."
According to the police report, the woman -- a white female 5 feet to 5 feet 4 inches tall -- approached the boy and asked, "Do you want to go to the house," Villegas said.
When the boy said no, she "walked away, got in her car and left," he said.
"There wasn't any attempt to grab him or indicate she was trying to lure him," Villegas said.
According to School District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker, Thursday was a minimum day.
"The parent was not there at the designated time," she said. "There were not any other kids waiting in that area."
Principal Holeva said she patrolled the 9th Street gate for a long time Friday after dismissal "to be sure all our students were safe and picked up by family members."
She also developed safety protocols for student dismissal that could impact a parent's usual pick up routine.
The new "ongoing and permanent" safety protocols -- which were outlined in the letter to parents -- will be reviewed with the classes throughout the week, Holeva said.
District Superintendent Ben Dr. Ben Drati issued a statement on Monday.
"The safety and security of our students and staff is our top priority," Drati said.
"We continue to evaluate all school site security and have a letter going out to parents this week that explains our plans," he said.
"We continue to work with our law enforcement partners and city leaders on these efforts."
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