Bird Rock Elementary School’s Parents on Patrol keep watch over the campus

Bird Rock Elementary School parent Todd Marchner participates in Parents on Patrol to help keep an eye on the school.
(Provided by Todd Marchner)

About 20 members with red shirts and radios walk the school inside and out to provide extra security.


A group of parents from Bird Rock Elementary School in La Jolla are taking shifts to keep an eye on the campus in response to the March 28 shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., during which six people were killed.

Bird Rock Elementary acting Principal Jamie Jorgensen (Principal Andi Frost is on leave and will not return) said at the April 20 meeting of the La Jolla Cluster Association — an organization of representatives of all five La Jolla public schools — that the parents wear red shirts and patrol the school’s perimeter in one-hour shifts.

“They’re kind of just an extra pair of eyes on our campus and surrounding our campus,” Jorgensen said. “I thought it was a great idea because … [if] we let people know that we have more security around our campus, it’ll be a better thing.”

“We all have a stake” in school safety, BRES parent and patrol member Todd Marchner told the La Jolla Light.

The group started with two parents about two weeks ago and has grown to about 20.

“We all sign up for our slots on a weekly basis and we have a ... radio in our left hand and our phone in our right hand,” Marchner said. ”We are walking around the campus inside and then we go outside. ... We’re looking [out] for the safety of our children to deter any potential intruders and to let them know that we are serious about our security.”

Marchner’s employer, Oracle Corp., is sponsoring the program by funding the parents’ red shirts, which eventually will read “BRE POP.”

“It’s all about the Bird Rock parents getting together,” Marchner said.

Parents who see anything suspicious are advised to let the school’s front office staff know so the school can decide whether to start emergency protocol, Marchner said.

“We’re really appreciative of that,” Jorgensen said.

“We’re looking [out] for the safety of our children to deter any potential intruders and to let them know that we are serious about our security.”

— Todd Marchner

Maureen Magee, spokeswoman for the San Diego Unified School District, which operates La Jolla’s public schools, did not have an immediate comment about the patrol.

San Diego Unified board trustee Cody Petterson said at the Cluster Association meeting that he encourages those who have concerns about their school campuses to “talk to me about it. … Safety is our No. 1 concern. No parent wants to send their kid to a school where they feel unsafe.”

Other cluster news

Members of the La Jolla Cluster Association meet April 20 at Muirlands Middle School.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

BRES site modernization: The process is beginning for a modernization project at Bird Rock Elementary.

No details are available, but project leads are “starting to collect information from us,” Jorgensen said. “It’s exciting.”

She added that nothing will begin in earnest until 2025.

The project would be similar to one currently in progress at La Jolla Elementary School. That $48 million modernization is expected to be completed in 2024 and will upgrade the school’s existing permanent buildings and add an administrative and classroom building, kindergarten classroom buildings, a lunch structure and an upper-field restroom building while remodeling an existing kitchen.

Area superintendent positions: Cluster Association Chairwoman Megan DeMott asked members to consider signing a letter of support as SDUSD Area 5 Superintendent Mitzi Merino reapplies for her job.

San Diego Unified is vacating all its area superintendent jobs but is encouraging those currently holding those roles — and anyone else interested — to apply.

The move is part of SDUSD Superintendent Lamont Jackson’s vision to move the district forward, Magee told the Light.

“The goal is to recruit employees who best fit the roles laid out in the newly modified job descriptions in time for the new school year,” she said.

The effort to refill area superintendent positions will include the addition of “a position dedicated to serving middle schools. This change will allow the district to help meet the academic and social-emotional needs of middle school students,” Magee said.

DeMott said she and “the people that I’ve spoken to in the cluster definitely highly support” Merino.

The letter DeMott drafted, dated April 20 and signed “La Jolla Cluster” with space for individual signatures, states that Merino “has successfully navigated the challenges associated with the position over the last 12 years and continues to provide incredible support.”

The letter says cluster members “desire to continue our long-standing relationship with Mitzi.”

The application period closes in a few weeks, Merino said.

Merino said she will submit any letters of recommendation with her application and added that she is “humbled” by the community support.

Petterson said he would not comment about personnel matters but said many parents have reached out about the potential change in the post.

“What I told the superintendent and what I said in public is the superintendent needs the team he needs,” Petterson said. “It’s a very intimate role. … I’ve not been intervening.”

“My hope is that we don’t see a full turnover,” Petterson added. “Honestly, having a full turnover [of] area superintendents at the same time would be very concerning from an administrative perspective.”

Important dates: The 2023-24 school year will begin Monday, Aug. 21. The La Jolla Cluster Association next meets at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, in the Muirlands Middle School library, 1056 Nautilus St. To learn more, visit