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B3 / Fencing and Signage


Safety in our schools is a top priority to ensure an adequate learning environment. President Clinton, speaking on Monday before the national convention of the American Federation of Teachers in New Orleans, highlighted the "terrible toll” that school violence is taking on students and teachers.

As part of these acts of aggression he included truancy and other "minor” acts of defiance such as talking back to school personnel and offenses that has been occupying a prominent place in the media.

The President add that tight curfews, and strong measures to combat truancy, as well as wider use of school uniforms and "zero tolerance” policies for guns in schools are important steps to take as we try to improve conduct and raise learning in all grades.

Here in Miami-Dade we have witnessed the positive impact of school uniforms through the over 200 schools that have adopted a policy endorsing it.

Clinton also called truancy more than a harbinger of danger adding that if our children do not sit inside their classrooms they will rise up in our streets.

Today we will consider a measure that I have proposed to strengthen school perimeters and continue working on school security as part of the platform that received the support of more than 25,000 people who affixed their signatures to it and which I proposed during my first day in office under the slogan "Educate children and you will no punish adults”.

In addition to providing security for our students, the installation of fences can help us to avoid liability when injuries occur on our property outside of schools hours.

During last meeting (on July 8th), I mentioned an article in the Wall Street Journal in which our school system was mentioned a having had to pay a man $2.9 million dollars after he was shot in the field of one of our schools in the middle of the night.

The benefits of fencing the school perimeters are obvious. If you compare Hialeah Miami Lakes Senior High School, which does not have a perimeter fence, with Northwestern Senior High, a school whose perimeter is fenced, you would see a 50% decrease in crime.

The installation of fences around a school has many proven benefits. In addition to shielding us form unnecessary lawsuits, we can also prevent incidents like the one that took place in Carol City Elementary, a school that does not have its perimeter fenced in.

At the very least. Looking at this issues simply from a stand point of liability, we should post "No Trespassing” signs along the perimeters of our schools to have some type of protection.

I want to clarify this item however; our approval today does not mean that tomorrow we will start spending millions of dollars to fence all of our schools.

What I am asking for are three things:

1. To direct Principals to make sure that the fences around their schools are in proper working condition because it does not make sense to have a fence that is broken, not to mention the possibility that one of our students could get hurt by it.

2. Direct Principals to post "No Trespassing” signs at their schools. These signs are available at any hardware store and usually cost less than a dollar. In exchange for spending a minimal amount for this item, we can protect ourselves from lawsuits such as the one that cost us $2.9 million dollars.

3. To have the Superintendent transmit a report on the status of fencing at all of our schools. This report will include information telling us if the current measures are adequate to ensure the safety of our students and protect us from liability as well as state the feasibility of installing additional fences. In other words, it will tell us if we would gain more by installing the fences, if we only need to make repairs, or if we should keep everything as it is.

As you can see, this item does not call for a multimillion-dollar expenditure of funds but rather for us to examine, what preventive measures we must take in order to avoid greater liability.

I hope that we can continue to work together as we attempt to make our schools a better place for our children.


Office of School Board Members July 20, 1998

Board Meeting of July 22, 1998

Demetrio Perez, Jr., Vice Chair



As part of my larger proposal to improve safety at Miami-Dade County’s Public Schools, I have advocated securing the perimeters of our campuses by installing fences and appropriate signs. The measure would help keep students, employees and visitors safe my keeping trespassers off grounds. It likely would have added benefits: limiting the occurrence of injuries on School Board property —particularly before and after school, on weekends and during schools recesses— and limiting the Board’s vulnerability to lawsuits from those with injury claims. Proper "NoTrespassing” sign similarly would promote safety and protect the Board.

Fencing around Miami-Dade’s Public Schools varies throughout the district. Specifications have been strengthened since Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. As hurricane damage to fences was heavier in schools south of Bird Road, many Region V and Region VI schools have newer, taller (6-foot) fences with horizontal rails while most in the remaining regions have older, lower (4-foot) fences without horizontal rails.

Gates also vary according to the types of school property they project. For example, fences surrounding playgrounds throughout the district have baffle gates that permit only pedestrian access; these gates do not lock. Fences surrounding parking lots at some schools have large, gates with locks at the driveways while those at other schools have no gates at all.

Any new regulations on fencing should account for state building codes requiring that escape routes from school buildings be relatively unrestricted and for joint-use properties where playgrounds are shares with municipalities or the county. While such joint-use agreements may provide greater opportunity for injuries on School.

Board property, they also may spread liability, potentially saving the Board money in litigation and judgment costs.

One thing is clear: The Board must do all it can to protect our students, employees and visitors while they are art school and to protect itself from liability when trespassers claim injury on Board property. Appropriate fencing and signing would help significantly in accomplish this.




That the School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida, directs the Superintendent to:

1. Direct principals to ensure that Maintenance Department work orders are initiated to repair fencing at their schools when needed;

2. Direct principals to ensure that "No Trespassing” signs are posted at their schools; and

3. Transmit to the Board within 90 days a status report on fencing and signing around Miami-Dade County’s Public Schools.

DP: jjr