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Security at Calif. dist. has high-powered rifles

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 8:41 am •  Published: January 24, 2013
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Still, James Henriquez, 16, a sophomore who just enrolled at Fontana High School this week after moving from Texas, was wary.

"If the wrong person gets ahold of the gun, then we have another shooter going around with a gun. What happens then?" he asked.

Other students said they felt disillusioned that officials would spend money on semiautomatic rifles while the district eliminated its comprehensive guidance counseling program two years ago.

"They should get guns, but not as many and not spend so much money on them," said student Elizabeth Tovar. "They should use the money to get back our counselors because a lot of us really need them."

The district saved millions by restructuring guidance services, said Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks.

The 40,000-student district came up with the school rifle program after consulting with top school safety experts and looking at what other large districts had done, said Olsen-Binks.

Santa Ana Unified School District, in nearby Orange County, has had a rifle program for about two years that operates similarly to the one Fontana has started, said police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

The Los Angeles School Police Department also deploys rifles to its officers as needed, the department said in a statement. It would not say how many rifles district police have but said the weapons are kept in the department's armory and are handed out and returned daily.

"I came from a teaching background, and it's appalling to think that we'd have to have security officers — let alone armed police officers — on our campuses," Olsen-Binks said. "But the bottom line is ... everybody has anxiety over school safety right now."

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Associated Press writers Robert Jablon and Christina Hoag in Los Angeles contributed to this report.