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Parents tell Zimmer kids scared by homeless, tents, mobile homes

Mike Szymanski | August 19, 2015

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Steve Zimmer greets parents at Vine Street Elementary

Steve Zimmer greets parents at Vine Street Elementary

On the first day of school yesterday as he visited a school in his district, LA Unified board president Steve Zimmer encountered an unexpected issue: Parents at Vine Street Elementary in Hollywood were complaining about the tents, mobile homes and the homeless people living on the street behind the school.

“I know, I saw that while coming into the school, I had trouble getting in myself,” Zimmer said as he met with parents in one of his first-day-of-school stops. “This is a very serious concern and we should be able to take care of it quickly.”

Parent Rudy Sanchez raised the issue as Zimmer appeared before about 80 parents at the school of 580 students, K-through-6th grade. Many of the parents nodded in agreement that this issue was their most serious concern. Most of the children attending the school are dropped off to enter through a back entrance at Lillian Way, rather than through the main entrance on Vine Street. Lillian Way is a small street with mobile homes and trailers and several homeless people sleeping in boxes or tents.

“These homeless people follow the children, and today one of them almost hit my car while I was bringing my children to school,” said Sanchez, who has two children at the school. After school, he said, the children walk a few blocks to the Boys & Girls Club in Hollywood and he is worried. “I have told them don’t go with strangers, but I am nervous. This has been going on for a long time,” he said.

Zimmer suggested that LA Unified School Police create a Safe Passage zone, but parents said the school police and Los Angeles police have visited the campus over the past year. They told him officers move, ticket and arrest people when necessary, but the problem persists.

“The police are very good about responding when we call, but they say the city allows permits for the trucks and campers and people live there,” Sanchez said. “I think there should be a limit around the school area where they cannot do that.”

The school has a new principal, Kurt Lowry, who said that he will make issues of safety a high priority for the school. There are already meetings scheduled to answer parental concerns.

“We will get the police out here and the homeless services out here and we will get some solutions,” Zimmer said. “And I want to thank parents for bringing this to me.”

Lowry added, “It is important for parents to be a part of the school community and let us know how we can best help their children and the entire community.”

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