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Security of CVHS lot challenged
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Vehicle break-ins and a recent fight in the Central Valley High School student parking lot have prompted parents of a student to call for greater security measures.

Donna Megee said her son's vehicle was broken into on March 17 and a $3,000 stereo system was stolen. She also said that her son, Chad Megee, 17, was jumped in a May 13 fight involving a non-student in the student parking lot. On Thursday she said school officials have not been response to her calls for more security measures.

"There's no security out there so this couldn't be coming around," said Megee of the criminal element.

Principal Fred VanVleck said his school offers security but the emphasis is on the courtyard, not the parking lot.

"Our focus is to secure the inside of the campus," said VanVleck. "Our number one priority is to keep the kids safe. I obviously don't want to see vehicles broke into."

Police records indicate the parking lot saw two vehicle break-ins during 2007 and five this year. Only two of the 2008 break-ins occurred during the school day, he said.

In response to the May 13 noon-time fight, VanVleck said the school has changed some policies. No longer will students with off-campus lunch privileges be able to sit in or hang out near their cars to eat. Students who leave campus during the 35-minute lunch break must eat elsewhere or return to the courtyard area.

Campus security is posted in the passageway between the student parking lot and courtyard, said VanVleck. During the fight, said VanVleck, Megee and his friends made a point to drive to a section of the parking lot farther away from security.

School Resource Officer Art Hively patrols the parking lot when he can, VanVleck added.

Ceres Unified School District Superintendent Walt Hanline said the district may gate off the entrance to the student parking lot as one way to keep out trouble. Problems with break-ins may not end with a new gate, he said.

"It's something we can consider doing," said Hanline. "We haven't been locking these gates because the work experience kids and off campus kids go off. There's some pros and cons to that."

VanVleck said the man who got into a fight with Megee was on campus legitimately to drop off his cousin, who is a student at CVHS. The man also used the appropriate drop-off lane.

Donna Megee expressed dismay that her son was suspended for his involvement in the fight. Police said it appears that Chad Megee threw the first punch at Marco Montes, 18, of Ceres, who had approached him and his group of friends. Chad told police he punched Montes because Montes drew back his fist and acted as if he were about to strike.

Montes, who is much smaller in size than Megee, told police that one of the boys threw something at his Mustang so he came back and asked why they were looking for trouble.

Montes was cited with misdemeanor battery on school grounds.

VanVleck refused to comment directly on the suspension but offered that: "From criminal aspects, it met the needs of self defense, but from a school aspect it was different. We don't use the same set of standards that police do."

Hanline resented how Chad Megee's broached the subject at Thursday night's School Board meeting. Chad Megee's father, Rick Megee, and grandmother Beverly Megee of Hughson, discussed the matter irrationally, said Hanline and got personal with himself and the board. Hanline said the correct protocol is to put a request in writing for a hearing.

"It was a public attack on the principal and a public attack on me and they think their son has been mishandled and so they wanted to assert things to the board president," said Hanline. "They kept wanting to have this public meeting."