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Artesia Council Renews Crossing Guard Contract, Questions Who Should Pay

By Rico Dizon

The Artesia City Council recently voted unanimously in renewing the already lapsed four-year crossing guard contract with All City Management Services ending in 2016.

At the same time, the City Council, with Mayor Pro Tem Miguel Canales and Council Member Sally Flowers abstaining, gave the go-ahead for City Manager William Rawlings and the Staff to schedule discussion with ABC Unified School District Board specifically about the issue of who’s obligation is it to safeguard the school children when crossing the streets by providing the services of crossing guards.

During this meeting, the City Council and the Staff were in a quandary to determine if the city, school district or the state were responsible for providing and paying for the costs if a crossing guard falls and, or, is injured on the job.

City Council Member Ali Taj opened discussion on the agenda item, “I am in favor of providing crossing guards but I came across the fact that it is the school district who should be paying for crossing guards, however, the latter refused to do that, and so the city has no choice but shoulder the obligation. Why is that?”

Rawlings said, “I would not characterize it as refusal to pay, but they are not  paying. From what I know, the state does not statutorily require the city to provide the crossing guards and typically, it is the school district that takes care of crossing guards.”

However, the city’s goal is to assure the safety of children.

Mayor Tony Lima asked the City Attorney Kevin Ennis, “who is liable in case the school children’s safety is put at risk?”

Ennis replied, “I will let you know as soon as I find out.”

Flowers recalled, “10 years ago, there was this meeting with the ABC School District Board that centered on the issue of responsibility over the crossing guards. The board was quiet about it but the previous superintendent just refused to shoulder the salaries of the crossing guards in Artesia.  The residents sent letters. We noticed however, that the setup varies from other cities per the survey conducted years ago, like for instance in Norwalk schools, ABCUSD split the expenses with the city while in other cities of the region, it is 100% shouldered by the School Districts.”

Although the City Council had already agreed to renew the contract , Ennis pointed out, “it can be cancelled in 30 days and a new contract can be prepared just in case the discussion with the ABC-USD would bring good results.”

 

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