Safety First! Latina Moms Organize for the Safety of Students

September 24, 2018

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Growing up in the same neighborhood where their children now attend Aspire Juanita Tate Academy, a group of four Latina moms had concerns over traffic safety around the school's campus and decided to do something about.

Together, parents Anabel Navarrete, Veronica Garcia, Ana Becerra and Karen Leon met with Aspire principal Ana Martinez to ask about how they could get a speed bump placed in front of the school. A committee was soon created with other parents joining and wanting to have something done to ensure student safety around the school campus.

"We had never done anything like this before, but the school encouraged us to work through the problem and gave us the support we needed to make sure our concerns were heard by the right people," said Navarrete.

The right people in this case turned out to be Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price, Los Angeles Unified School Board member Richard Vladodic, neighborhood homeowners and representatives of the Los Angeles Police Department to determine a course of action.

After four community meetings with an average of 104 parents and community members attending each time to voice their opinions and ideas, a plan was crafted.

"The safety of our children is the most important thing, and as parents we want to make our children feel safe in their own school," said Becerra.

Meetings were held in English and Spanish, so everyone was aware what was being asked and why there was a need to secure the area around the school for student's sake and safety.

Nearly 85% of the student population at Aspire is Latino with half of the parents speaking Spanish only.

The streets are narrow, and student drop off and pick up have become worrisome for parents and school.

"Speeding cars also present a safety concern with some of the residents of the neighborhood having their cars crashed into by racing vehicles,'' said Principal Martinez.

The proposal now under consideration is to create an additional loading zone parents and students can utilize before and after school, installing speed bumps to discourage speeding in the area, and pre-designating a street on one-side of the campus as a one-way to create a flow for student drop off and pick.

"These parents have been remarkable in their efforts to make these ideas a reality and not only secure the safety of their students but the safety of future generations of students by their actions," said Principal Martinez.

"We just wanted our kids to be safe and didn't think that our concerns would lead to working with a councilman and the LAPD to redesign the school area, but every parent at Aspire has been involved in someway and it's a great feeling to know what we are doing will result in a safer neighborhood and school for years to come," added Navarrete.

A press conference has been scheduled by the parents to encourage the city to support the plans.