News & Success Stories


News // May 22, 2013

Monarch School: Safe Passage for Homeless Children

Staff from Health and Human Services Agency’s Central Region Community Health Promotion team conducted a walk-audit recently to help improve safety for students walking to the new Monarch School site in Barrio Logan.  Monarch is San Diego’s only school for children from kindergarten through high school who are affected by homelessness. The new campus is located at what used to be the city's winter homeless shelter on Newton Avenue, close to homeless shelters, social service centers and mass transportation. County Supervisors Greg Cox and Ron Roberts expressed concern for the children’s safety walking to school from the 12th Street and Imperial Avenue Trolley Station and adjacent bus stop. In response, the HHSA staff conducted the walk-audit, revealing littered sidewalks, trolley tracks with unclear markings, graffiti and groups of homeless individuals loitering in the area. Leaking portable toilets also obstructed the sidewalk. 

Erin Spiewak, Monarch’s CEO said; “Student safety is our number one concern.  Central Region’s walk-audit was extremely helpful in developing a checklist of required corrective actions.”

The City of San Diego worked with the San Diego Police Department Central Division to remove the toilets. SDPD increased patrols of the area and collaborated with Monarch’s parent coordinator to implement parent patrol volunteers and school staff to help monitor the walking route. The principal also greets students as they arrive. 

Joe Wiseman, Monarch’s new Principal, stated; “We now have parents and staff at critical street crossings to not only assist our students, but also to increase supervision, awareness and visibility.  All of us at Monarch sincerely appreciate the concern and assistance provided by Chairman Cox, Supervisor Roberts and HHSA’s Central Region. We are very fortunate to have that kind of valuable support.”