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Eldorado staff see the beginnings of change, but say it’s not enough to make them feel safe

Students and staff hold a rally outside of Eldorado High School.
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 8:11 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - On the same campus where, two weeks earlier, a teacher was brutally assaulted, Clark County School District staff and students gathered for a protest Tuesday to voice their demands for an end to school violence. At the same protest, several staff members also shared which changes they did and did not see, as they returned to classrooms after Spring Break Tuesday.

The rally lasted for about an hour and a half, and drew about 35 people total.

“What do we want? Safety! When do we want it? Now!” shouted protesters.

The Education Support Employees Association, or ESEA, spearheaded the effort, and invited the public to rally outside Eldorado High School.

Their goal? To bring more attention to the intensifying violence occurring on campuses throughout the valley, and to voice their desire for more safety and security measures by district leaders.

ESEA President Jan Giles, who organized the protest, said the staff shortages and fewer adults on campuses are issues that are contributing to the increase violence.

Addressing the violence, Jara said recently that he and his cabinet are looking into providing wearable panic buttons for teachers in classrooms, upgrading campus security cameras and consolidating all campuses to one point of entry.

Giles shared what changes she saw or heard about at Eldorado.

“So I did have a conversation with [CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara] this morning, and the system to implement the panic buttons is started, so that’s a good thing. So that’s just gonna take a little bit of time to get that in place.”

An Eldorado teacher confirmed this; she said she noticed they had implemented a hanging wire into her wall, which she assumed is a technology device for the panic button.

However, she had not personally seen any changes to the campus cameras or any additional cameras added.

She said it’s the staffing behind these security features she feels needs to be given more focus, however. This is one of the many reasons she was protesting Tuesday.

“Cameras are fine, but there needs to be monitoring of it. Just putting a camera up, isn’t going to do anything. There needs to be staff to monitor it to be able to respond if there is a situation,” said Jessica Muirhead, teacher at Eldorado.

Giles said Eldorado’s campus had yet to be secured to one point of entry. This was something Jara said he’d planned on doing for all campuses, though the timeline wasn’t immediately clear.

Giles said she noticed a increase police presence on campus.

“When I was here this morning doing a site visit at 7 a.m., I did see the presence of police officers as well as administration in the hallway helping guiding students,” Giles said.

Several protesters we spoke to Tuesday said they are rallying, in part, to start community conversations around increasing safety on campuses.

“I want everybody who’s out there to make their voices heard, to make it known that we’re tired of this happening in this community, we’re tired of this happening in our school,” said Eldorado student Omaree Vandyke.

Giles said they need the education community’s support as well.

“As well as, backing from the administration and teachers,” Giles said. “We can’t do it on our own. It takes a village to raise students. So, it is an all-for-one. It should be all-for-one, and so we need the teachers and administration to step up and back the support professionals with the work that we do.”

Jara had promised certain changes by the start of school after Spring Break.

Last Tuesday, Jara said in a press conference, “Principals, when they come back on Monday, will be directed to facilitate and address the entire student body, and reminding them of the student code of conduct that they will be held accountable to.”

He continued, “If students violate the student code of conduct, it will be clear what the consequences will be. Fighting and physical violence, they will be removed from campus.”

So did they do as promised?

An elementary principal, who preferred to stay anonymous out of concerns for retaliation said they received an email from district leaders Tuesday saying they will receive more direction on students’ review of the code of conduct on Friday.

FOX5 reached out to the CCSD Communications Office Tuesday afternoon to verify that, but as of now, have yet to receive a response.

Physical changes to campuses could take time, but staff at Tuesday’s protest said they’re worried that time is not a luxury they have in this climate.

“It happened here, but it could have happened anywhere,” said Linda Elison, registrar for Eldorado who said she’s worked there 18 years.

She said she thinks reform should probably be considered for the disciplinary actions staff can take.

“I think some of the policies that the district has in place, particularly restorative justice, has really created an atmosphere on campuses that kids don’t feel like they’re going to be disciplined for any issues that come up.”