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Police chase ends at school

Submitted by on 1, November 5, 2009 – 5:50 amNo Comment

12Dozens of students at Otis Elementary School got a little pre-Halloween surprise on October 28 when a police chase ended on the school playground while school was still in session.

Police arrested Ralph Wayne Beckman, 47, of Alameda for a host of vehicle code violations, evading police officers and resisting arrest. Beckman led police on a chase through Krusi Park and onto school grounds after failing to yield to traffic on his bicycle, police logs show.

They also charged Beckman, a registered sex offender, for being on school grounds without permission. And they said Beckman also had some outstanding warrants.

School Superintendent Kirsten Vital said that the school’s main building and hallways were locked down during the incident, which happened shortly before the school day ended, and that students were kept inside, but that students in two classes – who had reportedly been on the playground moments earlier – witnessed it.

Parents who were aware of the incident said they were concerned that they were not notified of the incident soon enough and that they had to learn about it from their children and through rumors – though they praised the teachers whose classes witnessed the incident for their handling of it.

Some also questioned the safety of Otis’s campus. The school’s playground is open, and has open access to Krusi Park – which is sometimes used for recess – next door.

Vital said the incident happened just before school let out, making it tough for staff there to notify parents that day. She said school staff sent a letter to parents that she believes went out the next day.

“Our goal is to send the information out that day or the next day, if (something happens) at dismissal, so families have a clear understanding of what happened,” she said.

But a parent who contacted The Island said they weren’t officially notified by the school about the incident until the following Wednesday. (They said the only prior notification they had from the school was through a PTA e-mail group.)

And Vital, who said many of the district’s schools have the same open access that Otis does, said the openness of a school campus is dictated by school board policy, and that it would be up to the board to decide to change that.

“This was an isolated incident. I feel like things are very safe,” Vital said.

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