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There's Student Safety in Numbers, L.A. Board Decides

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The Los Angeles school board has decided that students in the nation's second-largest district may no longer go to the restroom alone.

The resolution adopted this month arose from growing concerns about the safety of students, prompted by a sexual attack on a 5-year-old kindergartner in an elementary school restroom.

Police have charged a teenage boy in the assault last month at 66th Street School in South Central Los Angeles.

Under the new policy, students must be accompanied by at least one other student when they go to the restroom, the office, or any other school location where they are out of sight of adult supervision.

"In some ways, it shows just how far school districts, particularly urban school districts, will go to assure parents that their kids will be safe on our campuses," said Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools in Washington.

He said he had not heard of another district adopting such a policy.

"Who knows whether it will work," he added. "But I certainly can't fault them for taking the step, as drastic as it may seem to folks on the outside."

The policy applies to students at every level of schooling, from pre-kindergarten to adult education.

The board rejected proposals to limit its scope to certain age groups, said Shel Erlich, a spokesman for the Los Angeles school district.

Many schools in the district already use such a "buddy" system, Mr. Erlich said.

And, officials said, students have been encouraged for some time to make restroom visits during recess or lunch period to keep to a minimum the number of times they must leave a classroom or other supervised area.

--Millicent Lawton

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