Fences being installed at South Lake Tahoe elementary schools
November 19, 2009
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Following an alleged kidnapping attempt, South Tahoe Unified School District officials are evaluating after-school safety and installing new fences at three of the four South Lake Tahoe elementary schools.
The district evaluated security at all schools and decided to install 6-foot black fencing around open areas at Tahoe Valley, Bijou Community and Sierra House elementary schools, Superintendent Jim Tarwater said. The perimeter fencing at the Tahoe Valley kindergarten will also be raised from 4 feet to 6 feet.
The $55,000 project, funded through district reserves, began this week with improvements at Tahoe Valley and could be completed by the end of the month, Tarwater said. If the weather holds, the remaining two schools will follow.
“After the attempted abduction on campus at the science school, we reviewed our entrances at all the elementary schools,” said Tarwater, who also serves as the principal of the Environmental Science Magnet School. “We wanted to tighten up security so that our supervision can be at those access points.”
On October 6, a 6-year-old girl was waiting for her brother after school when she was reportedly approached by a 5-feet, 5-inches tall woman weighing about 140 pounds with blue eyes and long, black, bushy hair.
The woman reportedly told the girl “your mom told me to pick you up.” The girl responded that she always walked home with her brother.
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The woman left in a small green car and has not been located by law enforcement.
“After the incident, the parents stepped up,” Tarwater said. “I saw them walking their kids to school. They’re more vigilant. Everybody is watching now.”
The alleged attempt happened in full view of other parents who were on campus to pick up their own children. Since the incident, Tarwater said the El Dorado Sheriff’s Department, the South Tahoe Police Department and the California Highway Patrol have been stepping up patrols of the area.
On a recent afternoon, parents of Tahoe Valley students waited inside the school’s foyer for their children. As classes were released, students approached in lines led by their teachers. Students who rode the bus formed a careful line outside. Children whose parents waited curbside stayed in the cafeteria until the foyer cleared, then went outside to meet their guardians. Teachers and administrators watched the front of the school.
Some parents said they felt their children were safe, although they take precautions when traveling to and from school.
“I always go to the bus stop with my children,” said Wendy Reed, the parent of a fourth grader. “I try to be a responsible parent and look out for other kids, too.”
Tahoe Valley PTO president Darcy Glaze was inside the foyer selling “turkeygrams” after school. She said after-school safety is strictly enforced.
“There are always people outside, always people in the cafeteria,” Glaze said. “We are always very safe.”
Glaze supports the decision to install the new fencing.
“I write in my Christmas cards every year how wonderful it feels to have my kids in a safe environment,” Glaze said.
Anyone with information about the alleged kidnapping attempt is encouraged to call 911 or Secret Witness at (530) 541-6800.