WEBSTER ELEMENTARY ‚Äî A handful of Malibu parents whose kids attend Webster Elementary are concerned about homeless people a nonprofit feeds and helps weekly on school property.
Officials with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District say they‚Äôre working to alleviate the issue.
As part of a permit process, Standing on Stone, a nonprofit that helps homeless and people in transition, has been using Webster Elementary School‚Äôs cafeteria every Thursday night for the past decade, but parents cite safety concerns and wonder whether another venue would be more appropriate than an elementary school.
Some parents said it‚Äôs not unusual for people who attend the program to urinate on the ground and leave liquor bottles. Others were concerned about the mental state of some of the homeless.
Other parents say the meetings serve a purpose, but some individuals who are attending may pose a threat to the children‚Äôs health and safety.
School district officials said they are keeping an eye on the issue and cite the biggest concern is homeless showing up early for the event. For safety concerns, the district has stationed a security officer on the property, said Carey Upton, director of facility use for SMMUSD.
The nonprofit is also planning to provide two volunteers who will show up earlier to deal with security, officials said.
Anecdotally speaking, Upton said officials have heard from residents, who live in the adjacent neighborhood, that they‚Äôve seen an increase in robberies.
“Parents have been asking to immediately stop the permit,” Upton said. “We are trying to keep an eye on it.”
Standing on Stone pays the school district about $8,000 a year to use the facility and every week about 30 volunteers show up to help more than 50 homeless people, said Hollie Packman, co-founder of the nonprofit.
To deal with homeless who may arrive early at the school, the nonprofit is asking its volunteers to get there earlier to greet them and man a table to have a formal presence in front of the school.
“Thursday night is an opportunity to get to know people and find out what their needs are,” Packman said. “[We] happen to provide a meal.”
She said the nonprofit was “deeply concerned that others are concerned.”
“We are in service to Malibu in addition to people on the streets …. We are open to suggestions and input.”
On the other hand, Upton said Standing on Stone is providing a vital service and people from Malibu volunteer.
“With the number of parents who think this is a horrible idea, there are a number of people who [believe] it‚Äôs the right ‚Ä¶ idea,” Upton said.
Janet Davis, who has been living in Malibu for more than two decades, said it was important to be serving individuals who are less fortunate. She volunteers on Thursdays and has children who went to Webster.
“It makes an awareness for the children, gives them an opportunity for service, not only prepare and serve the food, but also visit with the people who are homeless,” Davis said.