The crosswalk on Santa Monica Avenue
  • The crosswalk on Santa Monica Avenue
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There has been ongoing concern over the safety of children using the crosswalks at Ocean Beach Elementary School located at 4741 Santa Monica Avenue.

The school is situated between two busy intersections on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, at Newport and Santa Monica avenues.

“My kids don’t even go to school here anymore,” said Wayne Simard, the lead volunteer crossing guard. “I’m just a concerned community member volunteering because basically what I want is safety for the kids.... It’s a constant struggle, but I’m always out here, Monday through Friday, 7:15 to 8:00 a.m.”

He’s been helping kids cross the street safely for nearly seven years, in a crosswalk that took nearly three years to have installed.

“People are still blowing through and speeding too much,” he added.

Mandy Havlik, a concerned parent, organized a “Traffic Safety Awareness Campaign” that was held on November 3rd of last year in front of the school. She aimed to encourage local community members to abide by the existing traffic safety laws and to donate to her campaign to purchase safety equipment, including hand-held stop signs, safety vests, and traffic safety signs for the six crosswalks and the area around the school perimeter.

Her efforts — as well as those of Simard and other concerned parents — paid off when, on November 30, mainstream media picked up the story, highlighting the dangers of speeding and distracted drivers at the intersections surrounding the school.

The following day, council representative Conrad Wear from Lori Zapf’s office contacted Simard after seeing the broadcast and discussed safety improvements with him. In the meantime, over the Christmas break, Simard purchased four body-cams for the crossing guards.

“From now on, all of the crossing guards at OB Elementary will be wearing a body-cam,” wrote Simard on a private Facebook page.

“I let [the school] know about the body-cams prior to and after I purchased them,” Simard told me. “I did it for our protection because there have been a few incidents where people have accused us of doing minor things that we have not done…video never lies.”

Simard’s mission to keep children safe hasn’t always been wholly accepted by the school’s administration. In October of 2017, he was at odds with the principal after he “took down” a transient who had exposed himself near the school.

“I didn’t hurt him or anything — I just took him down and tried to call 911. They didn’t answer, so I had to let the guy go,” he told me at the time. “The school liaison police officer came to me and told me that the principal wanted him to convey that message to me — I can’t run off homeless people [and] I can’t ask people to slow down on this street…but I care very little about politics and how things look…what I want is safety for the kids.”

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Comments

JustWondering Jan. 5, 2018 @ 8:58 a.m.

Thumbs 👍🏻Up for Mr. Simard! Not only for your efforts in regards to the safety of our kids. But also for not listening to the school Principal.

The sidewalks and streets are public property, and for that matter the school is too when you think about it. You go ahead and yell at and remind those drivers to slow down. It only takes a split second for a tragedy to happen.

And while a homeless person has just as much right to the sidewalk as you do, if they are committing a crime, like indecent exposure (314.1 Cal Penal Code) do your duty, as any decent citizen would, and make a citizen’s arrest.

Maybe the Principal is more interested in his pension than the safety of the kids leaving the school and that’s a real shame. I suspect every parent expects school officials to protect their children, and not ignore criminal behavior.

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Visduh Jan. 5, 2018 @ 12:56 p.m.

If this is a typical principal, the highest priority is avoiding anything deemed to be embarrassing. So, if there is some sort of dust-up in front of the school, well, that is embarrassing, and we can't have that. Does this mean the principal would rather have a kid hit by a car? Not exactly, but schools which often claim to want community involvement and assistance really want nothing of the sort.

Notice that Zapf's office got in touch after the media reported on the safety issues. That's what it takes to get the council member to do anything in most instances. But why was it a volunteer who got city attention, and not the school district? Could it be that the slobberin' city and the slobberin' school district don't coordinate or cooperate?

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AlexClarke Jan. 6, 2018 @ 7:04 a.m.

Most school administration is useless. They do not teach or do anything productive other than get in everyone's way.

2

dwbat Feb. 5, 2018 @ 11:22 a.m.

Like the old saying goes: "I don't hate school; it's the principal of the thing!"

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dwbat Feb. 5, 2018 @ 8:44 a.m.

Sounds like the principal needs to be reassigned (to janitorial duty), or fired.

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gahuber95 Feb. 5, 2018 @ 7:36 a.m.

Man, and to think that fifty years ago, fifth graders served as crossing guards where I grew up.

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