Security at Burbank Schools Examined After Incidents

Image Courtesy Burbank Unified School District

A woman who climbed the fence at Walt Disney Elementary School on Monday was arrested for being under the influence of methamphetamine, police said.

While the incident does not appear to be related to thefts at Bret Harte Elementary and at Emerson Elementary that occurred on the same day in early October, it marks the third time in less than a month that someone threatens an elementary school campus.

Burbank Unified School District Public Information Officer Kimberely Clark on Monday referred questions about the thefts and school security to Superintendent Matt Hill, who was not immediately available to comment.

Hill replied to an email request to discuss the thefts and school safety after another call to his office on Tuesday, and referred to a written statement the district released about the thefts.

“The safety of our students and staff is of highest concern,” the statement said. “We will continue to work with the Burbank Police Department to ensure that we are taking every step to secure the campus for all students, staff, parents and guardians in our school community.”

Securing all entrances and greeting everyone on campus were among the actions the school sites would continue to take, according to the statement.

“Additionally, please know that in September prior to this occurrence, the District had been preparing for a safety audit by an outside organization,” the statement said. “Our schools are [sic] midst of working on the School Safety Plan and expect [sic] have that completed very soon. More information on both will follow soon.”

The woman police arrested Monday is 31-year-old Kristi Rodgers of North Hollywood.

“She was escorted off the grounds by school staff,” Police Sgt. Claudio Losacco said, adding “she was ultimately contacted by officers and arrested for being under the influence of drugs.”

Rodgers has no ties to school staff or teachers, Losacco said. Nothing was stolen and no injuries were reported.

On Tuesday afternoon, Losacco said Rodgers “pled [guilty] to possession of methamphetamine related to the incident [Monday]. She is on probation… [and] has also been ordered to stay away from all Burbank Public Schools as a condition of probation.”

The incident with Rodgers at Disney elementary comes almost a month after the Oct. 7 thefts at Bret Harte and Emerson elementary schools.

At Bret Harte, the theft occurred between 2:45 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Losacco said, and the Emerson theft occurred on the same day, in the afternoon, after school was out.

Once on campus at Bret Harte, the suspect walked into an unoccupied classroom, police said, and allegedly stole a credit card and money from a teacher’s purse. The suspect later used the credit card to make purchases at stores in Glendale and Burbank.

Losacco declined to provide a more specific time for the Emerson theft, and police have said they believe the same person committed both alleged crimes.

“There are afterschool campus activities going on at both facilities into the afternoon and early evening,” Losacco said. He added that there are no recording surveillance cameras on either campus, but said one campus does have a CCTV monitor.

He referred additional questions to the school district.

An African American woman described as being 30 to 40 years old, wearing a white tank top, was seen on video footage, and police said the same woman is also considered a person of interest in similar crimes in La Crescenta and El Segundo.

On Oct. 28, a “person of interest” was arrested, and Burbank police said the individual arrested had an outstanding warrant out of Los Angeles for a similar crime.

“Burbank Police investigators booked her on the warrant,” police said, “but elected not to immediately charge her with the Burbank case.”

Police have yet to release the person’s name, and Losacco declined to discuss the matter in more detail.

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  1. Why is there going to be a aafety audit on security for our children at school, obviously these incidents should be an automatic thought and put in action that more security should be at the schools. Burbank seems to have more crime rate then I have ever seen lately on the streets of town with cars getting broken into, houses getting broken into, now it’s going to our schools. We as parents put our children’s in the hands of the school staff while their are at school and don’t get me wrong they are the best but they can only do so much, they need help and extra security is what they need. No one should be going on school campuses while school is in session that don’t belong there. Please for the safety of our children and the parents sanity while they are not with their children. Put extra security at the schools while school is in session.

  2. It concerns me that we don’t have a safety plan. This needs to be addressed immediately. Between “soon” and implementation something really bad could happen.

  3. Who “soon” is soon? This should be addressed immediately. Personally, I don’t like the fact that when kids are in after school care, the gates are wide open for anyone to walk in and get close to the kids. I think someone should be checking people in to make sure they are supposed to be there.

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