For the second straight year, my district was recognized as the safest of large districts in North Carolina. I cannot speak to the procedures which take place in other schools, but I do believe this is attributed to our pro activeness in the safety and security measures that occur regularly within our school. Some background info about my school:
Student Body of approximately 1400 students (9-12)
Administrative team consists of:
Three Assistant Principals
One ISS Coordinator
One Campus Security Associate
One School Resource Officer
Here are some of the key strategies that are implemented in my school and district, with strong support from Central Office administration:
We perform random metal detection and bookbag/purse searches at least three times per week in the two main entrances for students in the morning. The first entrance is the lunchroom, which is where the buses drop off students in the AM. Other students are allowed to come in through the lunchroom, as well. I am in charge of the lunchroom entrance with our Campus Security Associate and always have at least two teachers on duty with me. On days which metal detection occurs, I simply pick a number and select students (i.e. every "fourth" student). Imagine the airport security screening. It's very similar, only without the technology advancements. My CSA "wands" the students that are selected. Students remain in the lunchroom until 7:45 AM. The other entrances is in front of the school, but students can not come in until 7:30 AM and must report directly to the lunchroom. A very similar procedure takes place, only students are able to walk through a metal detector. The process is a well-oiled machine. From my entrance, the only prohibited items confiscated thus far have been lighters and some pain medication (to which I confirmed with the parent).
Students are not allowed to carry backpacks to class. Students are required to place them in lockers between instructional hours (8 am - 3 pm), even when going to or from a PE class. As a result, students carry their books and notebooks to class. This is a county rule, but from I understand, not every high school enforces it. We do.
Our administrative team, along with our CSA, the have authority for random searches at any time. This can occur in classrooms, although I would prefer not to interrupt instructional time, unless we have reason to believe a student is in possession of an inappropriate item. In addition, we can search any locker AND vehicle driven by a student.
We have a state of the art camera system on campus that includes approximately 34 cameras. I'm sure most high schools have security cameras, but every administrator has full access to our system on their office computers. I actually have access to the system on my school-issued laptop. Our camera system is extremely user-friendly and allows us to instantly access, save, and copy footage.
Our School Resource Officer is in the cafeteria during all lunches, every day. Unless he is off-campus, I can guarentee he will be in the cafeteria from 11:20 - 1:15.
By far, the most effective measure we are able to provides is an Anonymous tip program in an ongoing relationship with the Gaston County Police Department. This program simply rewards students for "doing the right thing" by sharing information anonymously to administration/security. If a student reports to us that another student possesses inappropriate items at school and the tip consequently proves true, the anonymous reporting student can receive $75-100 from the Gaston County Police Department. Each School Resource Officer has the authority to incorporate this program in their school, and our officer believes in promoting doing the right thing. I have been involved in a handful of successful tips this year.
The safety and security measures taken at the school level differ greatly from district to district. Some educators may consider our measures as drastic and "over the top" and I certainly do not want to imply that this is all we do during the school-day. But, my principal is very adamant about ensuring the safety of our students at school every day. Personally, I believe our proactive security measures set a tone of safety throughout the student body, which hopefully causes students to make smart decisions and think twice before bring something on to campus or making a poor choice once at school.
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The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.