| » LAPD increases patrols

Los Angeles Unified School District officials assured parents today that the safety of students and staff was a top priority, and security was especially visible on campuses in response to the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.

"LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and Los Angeles School Police Chief Steve Zipperman want to assure all parents and members of our school community that the LAUSD's number one priority is the safety of our students and staff," according to a statement released by the district.

The district noted that every campus in the LAUSD has a school safety plan in place, and every school has a crisis team to assist students and staff "in dealing with the aftermath of critical incidents."

As many as 18 children are believed to be among the estimated 27 dead from this morning's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The gunman was tentatively identified as Ryan Lanza, 24, of New Jersey.

LAUSD officials encouraged parents who feel their children might be in need of additional support to notify school administrators. They said referrals can be made to the school's support services staff or the appropriate School Mental Health Clinic.

"... We collaborate with public safety and mental health agencies to ensure planning, preparation, response and mitigation to all incidents that may affect student safety," according to the district statement.

United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing LAUSD teachers, issued a statement expressing "sympathy to all those affected" by the shooting.

"As parents and educators we know the impact of this senseless act of violence will not soon fade," according to UTLA. "Long after media attention has waned, the healing process will continue."

The union encouraged its members, as they celebrate the holidays with their families, to "remember the students, teachers, parents and the entire community of Newtown."