LOCK­DOWN AT MAN­TECA HIGH

Trig­gered by man cut­ting thru cam­pus with a knife

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - By DEN­NIS WY­ATT The Bul­letin

Mayor DeBrum: City work­ing on se­cur­ing cam­pus by clos­ing Garfield Ave. seg­ment

Man­teca High was forced into a school-wide lock­down Tues­day thanks to the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of Garfield Av­enue slic­ing the cam­pus in half and a home­less pop­u­la­tion that con­gre­gates in and around the ad­ja­cent Lin­coln Park.

The lock­down at 1:33 p.m. oc­curred af­ter school staff spot­ted a man walk­ing through the cam­pus wear­ing a knife in a sheath on his belt.

Man­teca Po­lice caught up with the man near the high

school foot­ball field. They de­ter­mined he was in le­gal pos­ses­sion of the knife un­der Cal­i­for­nia law given it was in a sheath. The man told of­fi­cers he was tak­ing a short cut through the cam­pus. He went on his way af­ter talk­ing with po­lice.

In re­cent years cam­pus mon­i­tors and staff have come across home­less in­di­vid­u­als that have bed­ded down for the night in and around the sta­dium as well as un­der bushes along Garfield Av­enue.

Not only is Lin­coln Park — a pop­u­lar gather­ing place for home­less — im­me­di­ately to the east of the cam­pus — but so is an area that has been used ex­ten­sively in the past by the home­less for overnight stays or to hang out at that is be­tween homes, the park, the high school cam­pus, and the Lin­coln School fields that do dou­ble duty for Man­teca Lit­tle League.

It is not un­com­mon for the home­less to cut through the east­ern part of the Man­teca High cam­pus to reach the area ad­ja­cent to Lin­coln Park though most of the time it is at night or when school is not in ses­sion.

“We are closer than we’ve been to com­ing up with a so­lu­tion to give the district (con­trol of Garfield Av­enue where it slices through the Man­teca High cam­pus) to pro­tect the stu­dents,” Man­teca Mayor Steve DeBrum said.

Man­teca Uni­fied of­fi­cials have been talk­ing with the city about tak­ing over the sec­tion of Garfield be­tween Mike­sell Street and a point north of Mof­fat Boule­vard just past Pre­ci­sion Au­to­mo­tive that cuts the 98-year-old cam­pus in two. It leaves 15 class­rooms plus the school’s foot­ball field, base­ball field, tennis courts and PE area to the east of the street and the re­main­ing 65 class­rooms, two gyms, li­brary, swim­ming pool, theatre arts build­ing and office to the west.

And while the po­ten­tial of cars strik­ing stu­dents as they moved be­tween classes was elim­i­nated over a decade ago when the city agreed to a plan to al­low gates to close the street sec­tion to traf­fic dur­ing the school day, it still leaves a big se­cu­rity prob­lem. That’s be­cause peo­ple can still walk through the cam­pus via Garfield Av­enue at will as noth­ing re­stricts their move­ments on foot or bi­cy­cle ei­ther on side­walks or in the street. Sev­eral times in re­cent year home­less have been seen push­ing shop­ping carts on Garfield where it cuts through the cam­pus while school was in ses­sion.

Cam­pus mon­i­tors pay ex­tra at­ten­tion to the area while the school has a pol­icy that teach­ers must keep the doors of class­rooms that are east of Garfield locked when classes are in ses­sion for added se­cu­rity.

“We want to make it hap­pen,” DeBrum said of the city clos­ing the seg­ment of Garfield Av­enue.

In or­der to that, the city has to ad­dress is­sues such as wa­ter and sewer line ease­ments to re­main ac­ces­si­ble as well as sort through le­gal is­sues.

DeBrum noted a prece­dent was set years ago when a city street lo­cated near the south­ern edge of the stu­dent park­ing lot was aban­doned for school use.

Man­teca Uni­fied is pre­par­ing to in­vest $40 mil­lion into the Man­teca High cam­pus to ad­dress healthy and safety is­sues, mod­ern­ize build­ings, and ex­pand the cam­pus.

It will tap into $15 mil­lion from the $159 mil­lion Mea­sure G bond vot­ers ap­proved in 2014 specif­i­cally for health, safety, and mod­ern­iza­tion work.

An­other $21 mil­lion in de­vel­oper fees and $4 mil­lion in one-time re­de­vel­op­ment agency funds will go to­ward build­ing ca­pac­ity for growth. It will be the first high school cam­pus in the district to ul­ti­mately ac­com­mo­date 2,200 stu­dents.

Among the op­tions be­ing con­sid­ered are two-story class­room struc­tures, a new large gym, and ori­en­tat­ing the front of the cam­pus to Mof­fat Boule­vard.

GLENN KAHL/The Bul­letin

Man­teca Po­lice start their search for a man with a a scab­bard and 20-inch knife who was seen walk­ing on the Man­teca High School cam­pus Tues­day trig­ger­ing a lock­down.

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