By Cody Permenter
Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 9:17 PM CDT

Parents at Anita T. Dovalina Elementary School are concerned with what they are calling a lack of adequate security on a campus that sits several hundred feet from the Rio Grande River.

Maria Garcia, 28, said the area is known for having high crime and incidents of undocumented immigrants crossing the river from Mexico near the school.

She said she fears for the safety of her three children, all whom attend the school.

“Sometime the teachers hear gun shots from across (the river),” she said

Garcia met with dozens of other parents at a community meeting Monday night where LISD officials and local law enforcement officers explained security measures at the district.

Garcia said she thinks the one unarmed safety officer that is on duty during school hours doesn’t offer enough protection at the campus, which houses around 550 students.

Discussion of safety at LISD elementary schools was also a hot topic during a school board meeting earlier this month.

Police officers from LISD high schools have been providing extra security at elementary school since the beginning of the school year because a safety plan has not yet been approved by trustees.

Official recommendations for increased security measures at LISD elementary schools will be taken up by the school board in October.

Victor Mora, safety/crisis management officer at LISD, said the district is aware of the risk associated with schools located near the Rio Grande, but he doesn’t see Dovalina as any less safe than other campuses.

He said that while the school only has one safety officer, all LISD staff members have undergone training to spot threats and take action in the event of an emergency.

“Every employee from teachers to custodians serve the purpose of security,” Mora said.

“We are all trained to be vigilant.”

Other security measures include a 10-foot perimeter fence that surrounds the desert area in the back of the school, which faces the Rio Grande.

Also, a coalition with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Laredo police and Laredo Community College police helps patrol the areas around the school.

“We definitely have eyes around,” LISD Police Chief Richard Palomo said.

Palomo said his office is working on adding additional police presence at all elementary campuses.

Options being considered include adding one or two armed officers to roam the elementary campuses and changing vacant security positions to police positions and filling those.