Has your public school instituted new safety policies since recent school shootings?


#1

This year our schools have made a cosmetic attempt to appear to be having a tighter control over who enters the school grounds. It used to be that most parents did not abide by the request to sign in at the office window. This year they began insisting that everyone sign in and wear a bright green sticker indicating they are a visitor. The rationale that I was given by the office secretary was that this was needed in order to have an accurate census of how many are in the building at any given time, in the event of a fire or other emergency requiring the building to be evacuated.

I’ve always had the habit of dropping by the school if I drive by and notice the school children out in the playground. This allows me to have an impromptu visit with my child. A week ago I did this and one of the yard attendants, a woman who has worked there as a teacher’s aide for many years, and is well acquainted with me by sight and perhaps by name, started screaming at me as I approached after entering the gate. She was a good 40 feet away, and at first I didn’t know who she was screaming at. She never attempted to approach me, but continued to scream that I needed to “get out of here!”, in front of all the school children, including my daughter, who had noticed me and was pleased to see me. I continued to approach, and she yelled that I needed to go to the office and check in. I yelled back that “You know who I am, don’t you?”, but she continued to make a scene, so I went to get a nametag. By this time my daughter, who is easily embarrassed, wanted me to go away.

To wrap up my story, I did email the principal and sent a CCC to the superindendent regarding this school employee’s poor communication techniques and inappropriate behavior in front of the schoolchildren. I received an apology from the superintendent. I sent a reply thanking him for his response, and in it I remarked that, if this new policy was for the safety of the children, that it appeared to me that it was entirely cosmetic, and would not deter an unbalanced person whatsoever, but merely inconvenience honest citizens.

In the case of this incident for instance, only an armed guard would have truly detered a school shooter. In fact, if I was a school shooter, this woman’s behavior would have enraged me. Also, the school has set a table by the school office window, with the stickers and self-sign in book, with a large sign reminding parents to sign in. A school shooter could merely grab a sticker and then reign terror on the school.

In actuality, only an armed guard would be effective, and my son tells me that they did have an armed guard at the Columbine campus. I’m wondering if the school is merely attempting to make a show of increased safety, in an insubstantial way, which is only another restriction on parents. I might mention that my daughter was a little surly for a couple of days after this incident, and I felt it had a negative effect on her to see a school employee acting so disrespectfully to her mother. I did mention to the superintendent that I felt this incident undermined me as a parent, and that this school employee needed to learn how to deal more tactfully with the public. I mentioned that this outrageous behavior would not be tolerated in a healthcare professional such as myself, but would probably lead to their termination.

What can our schools do to make our children safer? I’d like to hear from those of you who are teachers as to what new mandates your districts are making and how you are dealing with this issue.

Thank you


#2

Our local elementary schools have required adults to wear a sticker identifying them as a visitor and/or volunteer for several years now. All the elemenary and middle schools lock the gates after classes start. Anyone who wants to leave or enter the campuses has to pass through the office or climb over the fence.

I’m not sure what the Catholic school does.

The local public high school expects anyone who enters or leaves to go though the front and they lock some entrances and exits but because of the way the grounds are set up it wouldn’t be too hard to get in. But they do have at least one security person who keeps an eye on things.

My daugher’s Catholic high school has someone who guards the only driveway entrance to the school which is open during school hours. Before and after school there is a second guard for the other entrance which seniors and faculty use.


#3

I don’t know about new policies, these have been in effect at public schools in this area for years, they are all closed campuses, and there is no admittance beyond security gates except by signing in. Exceptions are on election day, when voting in come campuses is in an area directly accessible to students, such as lunchrooms. Perhaps they have added security those days. I do know behavior such as you describe is totally unacceptable. If the system was working properly the person would not be able to get close enough to children on the playground to pose a threat or require such a response.

If the policies are in place the parents should certainly know about them, and should certainly abide by them at all times. After all, the parents have entrusted the safety of their children to the school during school hours, and should be willing to understand and accept policies intended to insure that safety.

If a parent feels the enforcement is too lax or inconsistent, they should also complain about it. Bear in mind a volunteer or employee usually would have no way of knowing if another adult is authorized or not, unless there is some type of badge or admittance card. The school is also obliged to honor civil laws such as child custody agreements, and to bar even parents who have no legal right to be there.


#4

Thanks for the feedback.

The first problem in this case, was of course the manner of the school employee in confronting me. In our school the playground is still totally accessible from outside the school, this is not an urban area and has traditionally had totally open access. I believe the school will be counseling this woman in a better way to handle this type of situation in the future. Her manner of reacting to me as if I were an immediate, dire threat was ridiculous, considering that she recognized me, and obviously I was unaware of any new policies regarding the playground. (As I said, a different rationale was explained to me at the beginning of the school year, regarding the stricter sign in policy) I felt it was frightening to the children, disrespectful, and relayed a message to my daughter that her mother was unwelcome at the school.

The second problem, as I see it, is that our situation is actually no more safe that it was previously. There is no way to enforce the sign in, or properly monitor it, and the schoolyard is totally and absolutely unsecured. Also, it seems as if the school is tiptoeing around the issue. They are giving vague explanations as to keeping tabs on the number of people in the building, in case of a fire, when in fact they are trying to make a feable effort to somewhat secure the building.

I would prefer them to be more up front and collaberative in their efforts. It’s not a secret to the public that even rural schools are subject to school shootings, as we saw most vividly exemplified in the recent Amish shooting.

I’m considering discussing this with an acquaintence of mine who is a member of the school board. The district needs to come up with a more coherent policy.


#5

I am astounded that the school would institute a security policy that does not include fences. wouldn’t the parents and other authorized people enter through the front door in obedience to the signs, while undesirables are free to approach the children on the playground? If that is the case, I reluctantly have to give that volunteer credit for her vigilance. I have bad eyesight and I move slow, so if I were in that position and saw an adult approach a child, maybe I would react that way. Sounds like it is time for a parent/community/school board meeting to discuss the entire issue.


#6

One of the services my company provides is “access control”… You know, the ID badges you wear that you either swipe through or wave at a reader and the door unlocks.

One of my favorite statements to a client is “Security is NOT convenient. The entire purpose is literally encompassed in the name Access Control.”

At our schools the doors (all of them) are unlocked for a 20 minute window respectively before & after school is to start or end. At any other time ALL doors are locked to outsiders except the main entrance. You are funneled into a common point for check-in. Basic security… lock down the perimeter.

As far as the playground scenario is concerned, the attendant was completely correct in his/her procedure. The execution of the procedure needs some polishing, but they were totally in-line with a common security protocol.

Here’s why:
You stated the attendant knows you on sight, and maybe by name. That’s great. But… Does she know your marital situation? Does she know if you’re going through a nasty custody battle? Does she know if you have a restraining order preventing contact with your child? Does she know if you took your Meds this morning? This list can go on & on…

IF, repeat IF one of these situations were in place, the legal system would inform the school and let them know you are not supposed to be there, or be able to casually walk up to the playground and talk to (or snatch/grab) your child.

That is why you are to check in at the office 1st. You’d get your sticker, they’d call the police, and when you’re talking to the child the cops would grab you.

It only takes seconds for some creep to lure a kid to the fence, grab them, and run to a waiting car. GONE…and 1/2 mile away before the attendant can get on a walkie-talkie or phone.

I’m not insinuating you are any of the above, and I may sound a little hard-edged, or blunt…but it’s the price of doing business. I’ve been doing this type of work for 15+ years now. I’ve seen things or people that you can only nightmare about.


#7

No, I’ve been told by the superintendent that this teacher’s aide’s behavior was totally out of line, and that she will be counseled. I just got off the phone with a teacher friend of mine, who works for the school district. She said that she knew nothing of the schoolyard policy herself. My friend tells me that this teacher’s aide’s reaction was entirely over the top. She made some good suggestions, including perhaps scheduling a meeting with the teacher’s aide, the principal and myself.

When I suggested to her that perhaps the playground needs to be better secured with a higher fence, and not wide open to the public, she didn’t think that would really prevent school shootings. I’m not sure about that, I think if there was a higher fence and locked gate, that it would give the yard attendants time to get the children inside.

I’m curious if a study of schools that have had school shootings has been done to see if having higher security measures does prevent them? Aren’t most shooters students or persons otherwise familiar to the school? Wouldn’t it be easy for an unbalanced person to smuggle a weapon into even a secured school? It seems as if most of these persons are suicidal and aren’t really trying to hide their identity.


#8

In one of the schools where I pick up books for home teaching, I had to present my driver’s license at the front door.

At the other schools, I just stop in the main office, tell them who I am and head to the guidance office. No ID required. —KCT


#9

Catholic schools work the same way…some even go as far as lockign the doors during school hours and you have to get buzzed in:)


#10

When I suggested to her that perhaps the playground needs to be better secured with a higher fence, and not wide open to the public, she didn’t think that would really prevent school shootings. I’m not sure about that, I think if there was a higher fence and locked gate, that it would give the yard attendants time to get the children inside.

Unless the fence was made of 3/8" plate steel, bullets will still go right through. A fence that was higher, or only had one gate would limit escape possibilities as well.

I’m curious if a study of schools that have had school shootings has been done to see if having higher security measures does prevent them? Aren’t most shooters students or persons otherwise familiar to the school? Wouldn’t it be easy for an unbalanced person to smuggle a weapon into even a secured school? It seems as if most of these persons are suicidal and aren’t really trying to hide their identity.

My daughter’s HS had two gun incidents in as many weeks about 8 weeks ago. One was rumor, one was real. A boy brought a handgun to school. No ammo or clip, but a gun. Through great work by the staff & police he was discovered and removed without incident. Quite honestly you, me, or anyone could walk into just about anywhere (except an airport or prison) with a concealed handgun and not be questioned.

It’s getting to the level of weirdness that schools will have to install checkpoints (similar to airports) at entrances. You’ll have to go through a metal detector, and have bags/backpacks X-ray’d.

(I don’t get it. I’ve carried a pocketknife every day of my life since Grandpa gave me my first one at 8 years old. It was in my pocket at school as well. I never even fathomed the thought of using it as a weapon, I just whittled and sharpened pencils… and bringing a gun to school wasn’t even a possibility… and we had/have many guns in the house - handguns, rifles, and shotguns - they were in the safe with locks until we’d go hunting or shooting.)


#11

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