Every spring break, Hilda Ramos’ AP calculus class meets up at APB to prepare for the AP exam and this past spring break was no exception.
Senior and AP Calculus student Emilio Valle decided to ride to school for one of these sessions on his new fixed gear bicycle, which had been a gift on his 18th birthday.
Since Emilio was setting off to college his parents decided to buy him the custom fixie he had longed for, for over a year.
“I felt safe, I didn’t think anything would happen to it since I was literally in school,” Emilio said.
But something did happen.
While in their AP Calculus review session, three people, two who appeared to be in their 20’s and an older woman, walked through the school’s open back gate that had been propped open to let students in. The three strangers walked around the school, circling the building three times.
The unknown visitors left with Emilio’s bike, which he estimates was worth $300.
In a sense, the incident changed the way Emilio felt about the safety in the school, he said. The lack of security at school on the weekend worries him since there was no security nor staff, other than Ramos, present during the time of the incident.
Emilio said he believes the school could have prevented his bike from being stolen if they allowed for security to monitor the AP class while on campus.
Although Emilio’s bike was stolen on school grounds, he does not blame the school completely for what happened.
“I know anything can happen anywhere, not just at school; I mean, anyone could’ve just taken it, it didn’t have to be some random stranger,” Emilio said.
APB policy requires that students sign a contract before bringing their bike to school, senior school safety officer Daymond Johnson said. By signing this contract, students are also required to bring their own bike lock to increase security to prevent bicycles from being stolen constantly, Johnson said.
Emilio’s bike was stolen on school grounds, but Johnson said he was not notified until a week after the event took place.
“We did not hear it from the teacher, we heard it from maintenance,” Johnson said, “It should have been followed up by a police report with the sheriff’s department so that way we have record of what happened, that way their investigators could have at least looked for the bike.”
The incident that occurred could have been avoided if the proper precautions were taken to ensure the bike was properly stored.
No rules are yet established for teachers coming in the school out of school hours, principal Josh Hartford said.
“In general, teachers who come in when the school is closed are taking responsibility for themselves and their students,” Hartford said.
The theft of Emilio’s bike is “upsetting,” Hartford said. “APB is our home and this is the same as someone breaking into our home.”
Because the AP courses occurred outside of school hours no security was required nor requested to be present that day, but it is not only the responsibility of a trainer officer for the job but as the adult present.
APB staff members have master key access which allows them to open any gate or door at will, yet many choose to leave their doors wide open, which can often intrigue outsiders, Johnson said.
“For me specifically, it makes my job harder, when doors are propped open,” he said. “No one is thinking about the safety, no one is thinking that; that gate’s open and someone could just walk right in here.”
Safety at APB is a very difficult matter to have control over and neither Johnson nor security cameras can do it on their own, Johnson said.
Even if the school is perfectly safe, the school cannot change the community it is in, Johnson said.