State senator's bill would require all Calif. classroom doors be lockable from inside

Bill introduced in wake of Sandy Hook tragedy

SAN DIEGO - Proposed legislation is calling for special locks for all school classroom doors in California.

SB 316, introduced by State Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego, 39th District), would require every classroom in the state with five or more people inside to have devices installed that allow doors to be lockable from the inside.

"It's very much safer for the kids and for us parents and for the people that work at the school," said parent Ana Trejo, whose child attends Normal Heights Elementary School.

Like parents across the country, Trejo watched the events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut with horror. She said she worried about her own children in school because she knows it could happen there.

"Things happen everywhere, even close to home and this is our home and we need to have it safe," she said.

The more modern schools in the San Diego Unified School District already have the locking doors, but there are dozens of schools around San Diego County that were built decades ago that don't have the modern locks.

Block said it will cost between $30 and $60 to retrofit doors with the new locks. He said he's working on finding funding for school districts short on cash. But in that regard, SD Unified, the state's second-largest district, is fortunate.

"We feel that we can use Prop. Z money, which was a bond issue passed last year, to pay for the improvements," said Jack Brandais of the San Diego Unified School District.

Money issues are something for legislators to work out, but when it comes to the safety of children, parents like Trejo say whatever it takes is worth it.

"Anything for the kids, anything for the future," Trejo said.

Blocks' bill would require that all locks be retrofitted by January 2015.

The bill should make it to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk early in the fall, and many expect him to sign it.

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