Metal detectors, other precautions being considered by school system

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 05:02 PM

OXFORD — The Granville County Schools administration is working to make schools safer for students, teachers and visitors.

After the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Superintendent Tim Farley and school principals met with Granville County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator and Fire Marshal Doug Logan and his assistant, Donnie Boyd, to review security procedures already in place and to recommend additional actions to make schools safer.

“We looked at every school,” Farley said.

Farley said many options for change were under consideration, including metal detectors, increasing school resource officers in middle schools and changes to the system’s policy manual. No timetable was set for changes.

But based on their discussion, Farley addressed a memorandum to all staff members outlining procedures that should be implemented immediately:

• Farley said he and all staff would wear identification badges.

• All staff from Central Services, or those not serving at a school, are to report to the front office when visiting a school to report being in or out.

• All classrooms should be locked.

• All individuals who appear on our campuses without proper identification should be directed to the main office.

• No ingress/egress points should ever be “propped” open, even if weather/temperatures impact comfort.

• All drills shall be practiced with fidelity and regularly.

“We’re considering everything,” Farley said.

School resource officers are an important part of security, he said. SROs are assigned to high schools and another splits time between Mary Potter and Northern Granville middle schools.

“We should have one in every high school and middle school,” Farley said.

The Granville County Board of Education Policy Manual includes guidance for dealing with general threats to student safety and specifically to bomb threats, a more common occurrence before the school shooting incidents in recent years. Other than bomb threats, the policy is more directed at possible threats arising within the school, such as a student bringing a weapon to school, rather than from an armed person entering the school.

Changing the section on security in the policy manual is another possibility.

“We’ve had lockdown drills since Columbine,” Farley said, referencing a 1999 Colorado high school shooting, “but not nearly enough. We got a little bit lax.

“What I look for is a measured approach.”

He pointed to extremes in the debate on school safety.

“The answer lies somewhere in the middle,” Farley said.

The staff is considering a range of options, all directed toward protecting students, teachers, other staff members and visitors to the schools.

Farley said the procedures already implemented are a good start. More will come in the near future.

He concludes, “To do nothing is not an option.”

 

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.