HomeCity NewsBurbank Unified School District Revamps Campus Security, Talks Safety Concerns

Burbank Unified School District Revamps Campus Security, Talks Safety Concerns

The Burbank Unified School District has overhauled security at Burbank’s 21 school sites after safety concerns in the community soared when a man allegedly committed sexual assaults against three students at Burbank High School in March 2023.

Now, district leaders said at a joint meeting of the City Council and the BUSD Board of Education, they have rectified the school-site safety vulnerabilities that allowed the incident to occur.

“In all honesty, it was scary on the district’s part, and we put into force immediately an assessment of how we can improve security at our schools to ensure to our families that we are doing the absolute best for our kids,” said Superintendent John Paramo at the joint meeting on Wednesday.

On March 7, 2023, Patrick Nazarian — a 22-year-old Glendale man and former Burbank student — was arrested at Burbank High School after he “easily gained access to the school through an unlocked door” before allegedly assaulting three female students, police told the Leader at the time.

During the investigation, detectives determined the suspect gained access to the campus through an unlocked entryway in the student parking lot.

The L.A. County district attorney filed sexual assault charges against Nazarian on March 9, 2023. A preliminary hearing is scheduled on April 17.

Nazarian allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in a bathroom on campus, and “inappropriately touched” two others before being apprehended by school employees, Burbank Police Department said in a statement.

Following the incident, the district received a wave of communications from concerned parents, teachers and students, who voiced a range of safety concerns and brought other incidents to light. In a public meeting, then-Superintendent Matt Hill promised to remedy the safety blights districtwide.

Paramo said city staff, police and fire officials, and City Council members quickly assisted the district. Those officials joined district staff to walk through school sites and discuss “monumental” new security measures, which Paramo said have now been implemented.

The first adjustment made to school-site security was to limit access to each campus to one point of entry, starting with Burbank High School. Paramo said it was not an easy change to carry out.

“When you have multiple points of entrance, what happens is you don’t have the proper staffing to ensure that it is being monitored appropriately,” said Paramo.

At BHS, securing the door that led from the parking lot into the main campus was no easy task, according to the district, because it serves as an emergency fire door with a push bar exit.

“It was like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube,” said Paramo. “It took us a while to figure out how we were going to address that issue.”

Ultimately the district chose to section off the side entrance with wrought iron fencing, making it impossible to directly access the campus from any other point other than the main entrance.

A single point of entry in and out of school sites is a top recommendation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which says that one entry point should be positioned so one or more individuals can monitor all entrances and vet those who attempt to access the school.

Now, Paramo says all schools within BUSD are moving to single-access points system, but fire safety requirements mandate several exits. This means the district has to station staff at every door or gate. BUSD is also in the process of adding alarms to access points aside from primary school entry points.

Additionally, the district is requiring every student and faculty member to wear visible identification, a change many districts nationwide have fully implemented for years.

This change makes it immediately obvious when someone does not belong on campus.

This new security measure comes with weighty challenges, district officials said. As students enter a single access point, their identity is processed through a software system called Raptor, ensuring persons entering the school premises belong on site.

This creates a bottleneck for entry at the start of the school day, so most students are being checked visually by district staff when they arrive.

To add to major access changes, BUSD has also installed cameras on school sites, reprogrammed elevators to give only general access to certain floors, and have revamped traffic safety.


The Board has long contended with varying opinions of the role school resource officers have to play in Burbank schools. Some members on the panel endorse expanded police presence on campus, pointing to the obvious safety benefits, while others question an SRO’s ability to prevent major tragedies and say they exacerbate the school-to-prison pipeline by criminalizing behavior that could be resolved in other ways.

Currently, the district has just one SRO for the entire city, provided by BPD at no cost to the district.

“The school resource officer is primarily responsible for investigating all suspected child abuse reports. … I can tell you we have approximately 250 to 300 per year,” said Sgt. Marsha Laufer, who heads BPD’s Domestic and Family Crimes Unit.

SROs also have community outreach responsibilities. They are charged with maintaining relationships with students, teachers and district staff, teaching safety courses and overseeing campus safety.

Laufer said that eight students were arrested by the district’s SRO last year. Among the crimes were robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, battery, hate crimes, vandalism and weapons on campus.

The SRO maintains threat assessments of students on campus, identifying students who could potentially pose a danger to BUSD campuses. So far in 2024, 25 assessments have been conducted.


At the meeting, district staff and police also detailed protocols for student-reported sexual assaults, a priority that was raised by students who protested last year claiming that the district mishandled Title IX complaints.

Paramo highlighted the district’s oversight of ongoing sexual assault cases, and Burbank police clarified their process for investigating cases, elaborating on key issues with prosecuting suspects in those cases.

BPD Lt. Claudio Losacco reported that cases of sexual assault are often not filed by the county district attorney’s office or the city attorney. He said that the lack of prosecution of the crime does not mean that the sexual assault did not occur, but rather the prosecutor does not feel that they can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“That’s a big difference. That’s a really high standard. Any attorney will tell you that,” said Losacco. “Oftentimes, we have a case where we believe the person likely did it, but it does not meet the standard in criminal court. So, we have victims who feel again victimized by the system because the case was not prosecuted.”

At an emotional meeting on March 17, 2023 — originally scheduled to address school-site safety — students and their supporters confronted the Board, demanding accountability and change for what they called a lack of action by district staff, with one speaker also accusing the BUSD of “neglect of Title IX procedure.”

The Board heard moving testimony from about a dozen former and current students and parents who gave accounts of sexual assaults that allegedly took place in BUSD schools, prompting Board President Steve Ferguson to call for an “audit of all sexual assault claims from the past three years.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, no information was given regarding the audit, which was supposed to detail specifics about the district’s response to sexual assault cases and the impacts that incidents had on students, including data on changes to a victim’s grades and attendance.

To date, those details have not been publicly reported by the district. Instead, then-Superintendent Matt Hill reported general statistics regarding the district’s ongoing Title IX investigations, assuring the Board that BUSD is compliant in its response to all sexual assaults.

“There’s been a huge uptick in all sorts of physical violence, especially since the pandemic,” said Board President Emily Weisberg. “We have to think about it holistically. How are we keeping the kids physically safe, but also what are we doing educationally to help the kids deal with bullying, physical and mental violence?”

First published in the April 6 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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