LATHROP – The controversy over whether to install cameras at Lathrop Elementary School escalated last week when a Lathrop City Councilman got into an argument with a resident during a televised meeting over the subject.
It might have been all for not.
According to Manteca Unified Assistant Superintendent Don Halseth, a description of the types of security systems that should be in place at each school is being included in the district’s Master Facilities Plan – a piece of which will be discussed when the Board of Education meets tonight at 7 p.m.
Because of what has transpired near the campus recently – a student in an after-school program reported that a man exposed himself in the bathroom and a student walking to school reported seeing a similar act executed by a man in a parked car – Halseth said that the consideration over how to proceed at the aging elementary school is being fast-tracked.
But cameras, he said, can’t be the only piece of the puzzle.
“We have some schools that are new, and some that are very old,” Halseth said. “When you talk about an old school you’re talking not only about the cameras but the infrastructure that goes along with it – the wiring and everything that you need to get it to the server. We’re looking at Widmer and Woodward and right now Lathrop is at the top of the list.
“The thing about cameras though is that they’re not preventative. Our goal is to keep our schools safe and it takes an investment by our teachers and administrators and even parents coming together. I worked at Lathrop Elementary for many years, and I think that we’re starting to see some of that coming together now. Cameras are just one part of the security of the school.”
Lathrop Police Services is actively investigating the incidents – which intensified on Sept. 28 when an adult pulled up alongside a student and offered to give them a ride the rest of the way to school.
In at least one instance the man allegedly exposed himself to an adult female, and is believed to have used two different cars during his outings. They are described as:
•Newer model (2000 to present) Gray or Silver 4-door Chevy Malibu with dark tinted rear windows and chrome rims.
•Mid-to-late 90’s white four-door hatchback (import type) passenger car with dark tinted windows, stock rims (not chrome) loud exhaust and front and rear bumpers that have been painted black.
The subject is described as a clean-shaved Asian male – roughly 5-foot, 7-inches – that was seen wearing dark sweats and a black beanie hat.
“If you see either the vehicle or the male subject, DO NOT make contact with him,” reads a bulletin from the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department. “Immediately contact the Sherriff’s office at (209) 468-4400 and advise them of the location. If it is safe to do so, attempt to obtain a license plate of the vehicle.”