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In accordance with a joint-use agreement signed by the San Diego Unified School District and the City of San Diego seven years ago, on March 9, the playgrounds and playing fields at Normal Heights Elementary School were opened to the general public.

What should have been a celebratory occasion became a protest by approximately 50 students and some parents, who were led by a man shouting into a bullhorn: "Go away," "We don't want you here," "This is our school," "You're trespassing." Shouts were followed by ethnic slurs and comments about the sexual orientation of “trespassers.”

It seemed that the protesters demonstrated a misunderstanding of the joint-use agreement, which does not allow the public access to the property at all times; access will be locked during school hours. Unauthorized individuals will not be allowed to walk through and interfere with the activities of the school.

After school, on weekends, and during school holidays, the upper and lower playing fields and the playground will be open to the general public. Hours of access will be from 3:05 p.m., Monday through Thursday; from 4:05 p.m. on Fridays; and all day Saturday, Sunday, and on school holidays.

On March 9, the main gate opened at 5:15 and the demonstration continued, with the bullhorn man shouting into the face of a resident who came for what was supposed to be a "grand" opening.

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lisamiracleboys March 13, 2012 @ 10 p.m.

I was at this protest, in NO WAY were ANY ethnic slurs or references to sexual orientation said from ANY of our PARENTS OR STUDENTS. We know there are more ethical ways to conduct ourselves and uphold the dignity and great name of our school, unfortunately I can't say the same for the few local representatives that were there. There was a great number of parents/students there to protest for the safety of their school, students, teachers/staff. There is no "misunderstanding" of what we were demonstrating for with the joint use agreement. It is CLEARLY written on the joint use contract that yes, was approved 6 years ago, but by a totally different board and has not been updated, revised or having our concerns addressed since. Our school is unique in design with a different layout than the other joint use facilities. They have gates that surround a field the community can use but not access the children/classrooms. If you know our campus you know the issues of child safety that concern the PARENTS AND COMMUNITY of the students that attend our school. There is NO gate that seperate the classrooms/students from the public. There is, however, a field up on top of the campus that is gated off from the school that if opened will NOT allow the public contact with our children and still allow public field space. Our Prime Time Program/after school classes are no longer able to play outside OR have snack at our lunch tables due to the gates being open and the public able to walk onto the campus. There is NO school security officer, public officer or police officer to help "guard" our children. The parents cannot "guard" the children as at this school the parents WORK, hence, the Prime Time Program. The CORRECT times are: Monday through Friday gates open at 4:05pm and close at 8:30am the next morning. Friday afternoon at 4:05pm the gates open and remain open until Monday morning at 8:30am. The gates will also be open on school holidays/vacations. Please get your facts straight as now you have put our children in more danger with people trying to get on our campus even earlier.
These overnight times give ANYBODY ample time to find a space to hide and hurt, or do even worse to any of our children or staff. Not to mention breaking into classroom, stealing our computers/classroom equipment and vandalize our beautiful school. There is no purpose for our campus to be left open overnight, if you are on a school campus at 2am, you have OTHER MOTIVES.
On Friday March 9th the original plans called for a "grand ceremony". This was cancelled due to it being a "highly sensitive" and "CONTROVERSIAL" issue. The parents put on the protest learning THAT MORNING that the joint use agreement would be put into effect that afternoon without ANY consideration of our childrens safety.
As far as the "Bullhorn Man" goes, I applaud all of his efforts in trying to protect our students, staff and the safe environment that we had for our school up until March 9, 2012.

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suzledeboer March 14, 2012 @ 6:49 a.m.

Thank you for providing the correct hours for access to the Joint Use field at Normal Height Elementary School. It's a lovely layout, peaceful to walk through, and a welcome addition to the park space available to everyone who lives in Normal Heights.

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suzledeboer March 14, 2012 @ 7:32 a.m.

Correction: The second line should read: at Normal Heights Elementary School.

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BikesAlot March 14, 2012 @ 12:51 p.m.

Setting aside whether members of the protesting crowd were acting respectfully or not, the issue of shared or joint use might be categorized into three distinct periods or types of uses. 1. During and 30 minutes before and after regular school hours the whole area is only open for school staff, students, and approved visitors. The changes to the joint uses may result in additional clean up of the grounds, and though it is unlikely, there also may be someone "left-over" in the area that would necessitate informing them to leave. It is likely that as more people use a facility, additional costs of maintenance will result. That's a cost we all/tax payers incur for providing public meeting and play spaces. The joint use of schools is VERY common in the Mid City - Grant, Franklin, Adams, etc.

  1. During times when youth educational, recreational, or child-care type activities are scheduled after school hours, there is now and should continue to be adult supervision on-hand. I was told by the school principal at a public meeting (attended by several of the parents involved in the gate-access blocking) held three days before the Friday opening, that the adult supervision for the after-school/6 to 6 program is at least one adult to every 16 children. This is hardly a situation where children are unprotected.

  2. During the bulk of the time that is supposed to be available for the public (by the way by "public" is meant law abiding people of any age, racial, ethnic, faith or income level. Illegal behavior by anyone is not allowed, right?).

As with any public park, recreation, or other public area, young children should be under appropriate adult supervision. Older children and even adults benefit from proper education/training about how to deal with strangers. I am pretty sure that neither the City Park and Recreation Dept nor the SD School Disctrict should be expected to provide the child care that parents should be providing unless for special programs. Locking everyone, including parents with children from use of this joint use - and attractive facility - during times when school is out, seems to be a huge waste of very scarce resources; public recreatio space.

Our neighborhood is populated with many people that are strangers to each other. Public meeting and recreation areas are beneficial to us all as a community when they are visited by and properly used by the widest possible variety of members of that community. I encourage parents who are apparently suffering from fear of strangers ("stranger-danger") to use the new recreation spaces with or without their children; help us make and keep Normal Heights a good and vibrant place to mingle with our neighbors... not to hide away our public assets behind fences.

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lisamiracleboys March 14, 2012 @ 9:07 p.m.

Our GREATEST ASSET is our CHILDREN. Normal Heights Elementary IS a lovely/peaceful SCHOOL, not park. Our children do have supervision, the question is SAFETY. They can't be safely supervised with the gates standing open with ANYBODY able to walk in. There are 36 PEDOPHILES within a 1/4 to 1/2 mile around our campus and 63 in a 1 mile radius. Opening the gates WELCOMES in this unwanted attention. Those of US with children do NOT welcome this attention onto OUR safe campus. Those of us WITH children are not looking for ANOTHER park, we know where the parks are. There is NO REASON for the campus to be open, there are play structures at the park, bathrooms, a basket ball court at the park and a walking path, guess where, AT THE PARK! The joint use facilities are very common in this area, go use them. Our school, if you were at the "town meeting" is unique in design. These other joint use fields are NOT unique in design. The MAJORITY of them are seperate from the school, and are fenced in areas. Ours, if you have seen our campus is not. The classrooms directly cross the path of the curvilinear path and our children in our Prime Time program are outside learning/playing at these times and have to go to their classrooms as well as the children in our after school tutoring programs. With the gates open any one could walk in, take our children and harm them.
Now, public as defined by Websters dicitionary, "the general body of a nation, state or COMMUNITY, at large." This means the good and the bad. Right? They are not dissected into good/bad, they both unfortunately use these spaces and with the gates open, will definately attract the bad. There is NO bike riding, skateboarding, rollerblades, scooters, smoking or alcohol containers in any public park. YET, AT WARD PARK THEY ARE THERE ALL THE TIME. Is that law abiding? I think not. Is that using the space correctly, in a responsible manner? I think not. The posted school signs are the precedent of the campus and there is no dogs allowed, no bike riding/skateboarding/rollerblading or scooter riding.
AGAIN, SCHOOOL for children to get an education, NOT to be open to the public ALL NIGHT LONG, and surely not meant to be open to endanger our children. The scarce resources are the minds and a quality education for our children. Adults shouldn't be "mingling" in childrens play spaces. Those kind of adults should be behind bars. We now have adults who are coming around our campus shaking gates, asking children to let them into spaces that are not on the agreement open to the public. This behavior is absurd, reckless and will not be tolerated. These individuals will be arrested, even if by means of citizens arrest. These are older adults, some of them were at the town meeting and very well know better.
This is not going to be solved overnight, but our childrens safety needs to be addressed directly and immediately handled by the government agencies that have the AUTHORITY to make changes.

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vames March 14, 2012 @ 11:31 p.m.

let me begin by first waiving my right to anonymity...my name is victor ames....the one so given the branding of"bullhorn".that being said ,i implored fair reasoning and result of this matter at hand.,throughout the channels of governing councils ,agencies,and community binds.end result...our choice to protest.fact;we,the school were told the ribbon ceremony for opening the school had been cancelled after the numerous walk-on reviews of our site(afterall,fair is only fair if its parameters are truly across the board)found the design in its rarity to pose safety issues...my personal bullhorn signified the sounding alerts the community should become used to in the tone of emergency calls that will be relentless for any harm to our children .realistically,no policing will see into our grade sloping design ,(the median of our campus reaches vanishing point almost instantly from the front lot area.point blank;our parents must sign in at either 6-6,or our front office to gain access to their own chid(ren).so it seems the general public has full reign of their protective space.how can that not be seen as a danger.

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suzledeboer March 15, 2012 @ 8:37 a.m.

You are certainly correct that the rules for using Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park are not enforced. Police officers writing tickets to those users who drink, have their dogs off-leash, climb trees, leave mounds of trash behind, and set up soccer games on the lawn would send a needed message that such behavior is not allowed or tolerated. It's probably not legal, but those users should be banned from this park.

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truthiness March 17, 2012 @ 8:13 p.m.

Why on earth would Mr. Bullhorn bring up a person's sexual orientation in this context? Sounds like some sensitivity training may be in order.

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vames March 17, 2012 @ 9:01 p.m.

i think the better question is why would someone accuse mr .bullhorn of such ,when nothing of the like occured,discriminations do not apply to me ,my stand in life is we are all ideal and equal....now back to the subject,thank you

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