Taft students urged to fight vandalism


Taft High School Local School Council faculty member Shereena Lewis thinks that students should take the lead in stopping smoking and vandalism which occurs in school bathrooms.

"What are you going to do to take control of your school?" Lewis said to LSC student member Cristian Contreras at the council’s Dec. 3 meeting. "Rally and defend your school."

It was reported at the meeting that student bathrooms periodically are kept locked due to delays in obtaining new parts and supplies to repair vandalism.

One set of bathrooms is reserved for the seventh and eighth graders in the Taft Academic Center. "We don’t feel safe in the high school bathrooms," Academic Center LSC member Kristin Rigby said at the meeting.

Taft acting principal Carolyn Rownd said that she has asked the Taft Student Council to address the issue and that students should be informed that smoking is not allowed in the workplace. "We need to address that as a job skill," Rownd said.

Also at the meeting, Contreras said that students have had problems saving computers files onto the school’s network drive. He said that instead students have been backing up their files on flash drives.

Contreras also expressed concern that the library is closed during portions of some lunch periods. He said that lunch is a good time for students to use the library for research.

"We used to have two librarians, but one had to be put in a classroom," LSC faculty member Sam Duarte said. The librarian has been alternating her lunch period so that the library is not closed at the same time each day, LSC members said.

Rownd also said that she has talked with students who hope to make a proposal on changing the school’s dress code. Students now must wear blue or black pants or jeans and a white collared shirt with sleeves, with some exceptions for clothing items containing the school logo.
"Students are generally dissatisfied with the dress code," student Jasper Oliver told the council. Oliver gave the council a list of recommended changes, which include eliminating the collared shirt requirement.

It also was reported that a group of students recently sprayed graffiti on the fence of a home near the school. LSC member Joe McFeely said that police used to park a squad car in that area after school but that drug activity and other problems have increased this fall because of a lack of police presence. McFeely said that police response has been slow when 911 is called.

The LSC meeting was the first for Rownd, who is serving in place of Taft principal Mary Kay Cappitelli, who is on medical leave. Rownd has been an assistant principal for 6 years at Jones Prep High School, and she once taught at Northside Prep High School.

"I’m very excited to be working at Taft," Rownd said. "I’ve officially been here for four days, and everyone has been great."

Network 1 chief of schools Anna Alvarado told the LSC that it cannot choose a permanent principal until Cappitelli decides to resign or retire. Cappitelli is in the second year of a 4-year contract.

Alvarado said that Rownd is expected to remain Taft’s acting principal until June 30. Rownd, who does not have a vote on the council, will work with the LSC on monetary decisions for the school, she said.

At the request of Rownd, the LSC reduced the principal’s spending limit from $9,999.99 to $2,500, which was the limit until this school year. Expenditures of more $2,500 require LSC approval.

The LSC is not planning to meet in January. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4.