EPISD residents protest and demand safer school zones

Community

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)- El Pasoans peacefully protested outside of City Hall and El Paso ISD Headquarters Tuesday demanding action from city and school officials regarding school zone safety after the most recent death in an EPISD school zone.

As KTSM reported, police say seven-year-old Alexa Barrera was hit and killed by a car in the crosswalk on her way to Oran Roberts Elementary in El Paso’s Upper Valley.

EPISD residents protested and asked that the District prioritize the safety of its students starting with school zones, pick-up and drop-off areas.

“Obviously people need to slow down and be aware and follow the rules of the school zones but we’ve been saying that for years now and clearly it hasn’t had a major effect,” Prashant Joshi said. “There needs to be a bigger police presence and there has to be enforcement of those rules with penalties if needed to let people know that it’s not okay to drive the way they’ve been driving.”

Police have not said if the driver connected to the Roberts Elementary incident, Marisol Castro Cervantes, 26, is facing any charges.

Protesters also commented on the other fatal school zone incident in 2018, where Kharisma James was killed in the parking lot of Tippin Elementary, another EPISD West El Paso school.

Concerned residents took to the podium during EPISD’s public forum section of its monthly Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday evening.

A former Hornedo Middle School volunteer crosswalk guard spoke on her experience with EPISD school zones.

“I witnessed at least once a week a child almost get hit by a car, I got hit by a car when a woman was turning left and didn’t stop at the four-way stop, I wasn’t injured but there were children all around,” Kimberly Joshi said.

EPISD District 6 Board of Trustee Freddy Klayel-Avalos said he was an advocate for action even prior to being elected to the board.

“As a parent in that area myself, I have deep concerns as a private citizen and a parent about the number of cars and parents who speed in that area so their concerns are very important very valid to me,” Klayel-Avalos said.

District 6 covers the West El Paso area including Franklin High School and Oran Roberts Elementary, where Alexa Barrera was killed.

Klayel-Avalos said he and District 7 Trustee Daniel Call plan to put together a security committee to patrol the school zones.

“We just have to figure out a better way to man pickup and dropoff times at schools with volunteers and police officers hopefully down the very near future with more police officers,” Klayel-Avalos said

The Trustee also said the public needs to be more mindful of their driving habits around school zones as well as educate children to be more aware of their surroundings, however, he said it is up to EPISD to protect its students on school property and nearby areas.

“I’d say that 100 percent of the responsibility falls on EPISD to understand that because they are students and not just pedestrians these are students, its 100 percent our responsibility, in my opinion, to make sure that something happens proactively now,” Klayel-Avalos said.

Klayel-Avalos and Daniel Call will hold a joint town hall on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Whole Foods on the second floor in West El Paso at 1 p.m. to discuss future agenda items and take suggestions from the public in response to the recent tragedy.

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