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Highland High shooting leads to lawsuit against school district

City News Service | 6/8/2018, midnight

The family of a 15-year-old boy who was shot in an arm at Highland High School in Palmdale filed a claim against the Antelope Valley Union High School District this week, claiming lax security at the school contributed to the shooting.

Robert Ruiz Dominguez was shot around 7 a.m. May 11 at the school in the 39000 block of 25th Street West. The suspect, a 14-year-old boy described as a former student at the school, was arrested a short time later at a nearby Vons grocery store. The SKS semiautomatic rifle used in the shooting was found abandoned in a nearby field.

“When I go to school, I would think that I’d be safe and I wouldn’t really expect myself to get shot,” the boy said during a news conference at the Woodland Hills office of his attorney, Bradley Gage. “But now that I did get shot, I don’t feel like going to any other school, ‘cause it happened at one school, it could happen at another.”

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from theschool district.

Gage released a photo of the teen’s injured arm, showing stitchesalong virtually its entire length. The legal claim filed on behalf of the teenand his sister, who was shot at but wasn’t injured, is a precursor to apossible lawsuit.

Gage said the school did not have a safety plan in place, and theschool resource officer assigned to the campus doesn’t start working until 9a.m., even though students begin arriving at the campus around 6:20 a.m.

“First and foremost, we want to see a safety plan set up so thatchildren are secure there,” Gage said. “Secondly, we want to see the securityguards trained so they can actually protect students if this happens again.Third, we want to see a school resource officer, or more than one, at theschool right from the get-go.”

In a letter to district parents last week, AVUHSD Superintendent DavidVierra said the district is “continuously reviewing our safetyprotocols,” and said recent “safety walks” of campuses helped identifypotential improvements that will be made at various schools. Those upgrades“include enhanced fencing, additional security personnel, updated surveillancecameras, front entrance modifications and an online visitor entrance systems.”

“Each of our schools has a dedicated school deputy who is on campuseach day,” Vierra wrote. “We believe this is important in supporting oursecurity staff. We also have various drills and training for students and staffthroughout the school year, and we continue to underscore the importance ofvigilance through ‘See Something, Say Something.”’