Editor's Note: The following message was written by Region 15 Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Sippy.
Communicating about an organization’s security preparedness requires a delicate balance between the public’s demand to know about specific security assets and protocols on the one hand while maintaining the integrity of that security system on the other which of course is critical to children and staff’s security. Unlike discussions about school budgets where transparency and clarity is our goal, communications about security topics cannot be judged by the same standard. Transparency potentially undermines the security of the people we are trying to protect.
Against that backdrop I offer the following conceptual/philosophical thoughts about Region 15’s school security system. I know it does not approach the specificity some would like but I am confident that after reading it you will be reassured Region 15 has a well defined security process in place and that revisions to it will be ongoing and expected.
The fundamental concept of our school security plan is to: Deter, Detect, and Delay unwanted visitors to our schools.
- We deter by locking our doors and funneling all non-staff through the main entrance where they are cleared to enter the building
- We detect unknown persons by use of security cameras and other surveillance equipment
- We delay unwanted guests until first responders arrive using lock down, evacuation and other defensive measures
Think of school security as a series of concentric circles: the entrance to the building as our first line of defense, then the main office, classroom doors and finally classroom teachers.
- Exterior perimeter security i.e. police or school security personnel are in place
- Main office --a person wishing access to our buildings will need to satisfy clearance requirements which include providing proof of identification, logging into our database, as well as stating the reason for the visit. Additional measures are in place but for security purposes those cannot be shared.
- Employees in the building are assigned picture identification which makes it more efficient for school personnel and security personnel to challenge persons without proper identification
- All classroom doors have the ability to lock from the inside which eliminates placing a child or teacher at risk when securing the doors during a lock down situation.
- As we learn more we will share this information with classroom teachers so that we may anticipate how to deal with most unique situations which might develop, i.e. How do we handle children in the bathroom during a lock down situation?
- Finally, we will continue to do lock down drills, scenario drills so that all school personnel are best equipped to react should action be required.
How do these measures impact parents and others who wish to visit to our school?
- We welcome visitors to our school but going forward all visitors will be required to show identification, sign in, and state the purpose of your visit
- We welcome our volunteers and value their service, going forward all volunteers will be logged into our database. An additional requirement requiring all volunteers be fingerprinted, paid for by the Board of Education, is under consideration.
- Our goal is to maintain a regulated enough environment where we are aware of all visitors to our buildings at all times without being overly restrictive in its application.
Where do we go from here?
- It is fair to say that our procedures are a work in progress and will be altered by future information.
- It is also fair to conclude that improvements to internal processes will be an expectation, i.e. Having drills against specific scenarios.
- It is also fair to conclude that we may be making structural alterations to some schools to enhance their ability to secure access points in schools.
- We will continue our close working relationship with law enforcement from both towns.
- It is also fair to conclude that additional funding allocation in subsequent budgets may be necessary to sustain our security preparedness.
- It is also fair to conclude that additional professional development for staff is a logical consequence as well.
I hope this outline gives you sufficient insight into our security preparedness. I have asked our principals not to disclose specific aspects of their plan because of the aforementioned rationale and the fact that each is tailored to the unique characteristics of that building.