After police arrested five Berkeley High School students in connection with a series of assaults at the school over the last several weeks, city and school district officials announced late Friday a number of extraordinary measures for boosting safety.
Berkeley Unified School District Interim Superintendent Stephen Goldstone has authorized emergency funding to increase the number of safety officers from seven to 17 patrolling the campus for the rest of the school year.
The Berkeley Police Deparment will help select and train the new personnel. Until the safety officers are in place, Berkeley Police will be assigned to the campus “to step up security.”
The school is establishing a telephone and Internet hotline for students to report incidents of violence on the campus — anonymously, if they prefer.
Ninth and tenth graders will attend special assemblies Tuesday to learn about personal safety and school violence laws.
“I’m grateful for the fast and energetic help of all our city’s public safety departments,” Berkeley High Principal Frank Lynch said in a prepared statement Friday. “Our goal is a peaceful, respectful campus, and I believe we can achieve it with this extraordinary level of mutual support.”
“We all want to make Berkeley High a safe place to learn and a good place to be,” added Berkeley City Manager Weldon Rucker in the prepared statement. “We’re going to work together on this, and we hope to see results starting now.”
One of the reasons for the recent surge in violence at the school could be the loss of space on the campus for students to socialize comfortably, Lynch said. A building damaged by fire was closed last year and much of the east side of the campus is currently off limits during construction.
“This year, we have been taking away the places students rely on for socializing, studying, and letting off some physical steam,” Lynch said, noting that, at 17-acres, the campus is already a third of the size recommended by the state of California to accommodate its 3,200 students.
Police believe the recent assaults are the work of 10 to 15 boys, “most if not all of them Berkeley High Students,” according to the prepared statement Friday. Those who have been arrested are reportedly identifying other participants.