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Sep 08 2016

Opinion: Lock Functions for Classrooms – Don Cherry

Category: Locks & Keys,Opinion,School SecurityLori @ 10:44 am Comments (10)

I occasionally publish a post from a guest blogger, and I just learned that sometimes the author can receive CEUs for these posts through various industry organizations.  If you have an opinion you’d like to share, drop me an email.  Today’s post is from Don Cherry of Allegion.


In considering classroom security locks (key inside locks exterior lever) versus office function locks (push or thumb turn button inside locks exterior lever) for use on classroom doors, I would make the following comments:

Some very valid points can be made with regard to ease of use of hardware which can be locked with the simple motion of pushing a button. Concerns about performance of people under duress are quite valid. Military, law enforcement, and other public safety agencies constantly drill critical functions so that they become almost automatic for exactly these reasons.

Push-button locks, however, do bring with them a couple of critical points which must be considered carefully before they are deployed. Any product which can be locked by any person means that in addition to rapid locking during an intruder-response situation, other scenarios become possible. These can include; lockouts as a prank, barricading a space during student-on-student or student-on-staff violence, and hostage situations. District management must fully understand these issues and be prepared to respond immediately and harshly to anyone misusing such products. A seemingly minor detail also becomes important. Correct floor and or wall stops must be installed to prevent doors from becoming locked simply due to the interior button bumping against a wall when open.

Most manufacturers have had push-button locks (office function) as described above, in place for decades, just as they have had traditional classroom function locks. The advent of classroom security function products is largely due to some of the above-noted threats. Many double-cylinder classroom security locks, such as the Schlage ND75, incorporate an arrow and the text “lock” to ensure that users know which way to turn the key to lock the door from the interior.

It is also critical to note that most push button locking products will incorporate functions which are undesirable in intruder-response scenarios. With most push-button locks, turning the inside lever will unlock the door. If someone exits a locked space during a crisis situation, they or someone else will need to relock the door. With other push button functions, closing the door if the button is pushed prior to closing will also unlock the exterior lever. Double-cylinder classroom locks always allow free egress, but remain locked if the interior lever is used.

Many large districts have deployed large numbers of double-cylinder classroom locks with good success. Staff is routinely drilled on use of the locks, and the interior cylinders are often keyed alike, and keyed in common with other hardware all staff members routinely use, such as staff lounges and lavatories. Keying these products in this manner ensures that any person carrying this key can lock whatever space they may occupy, while still providing security for individual spaces. Such a common use interior key can be issued to short term personnel such as substitute teachers while minimizing lost / non-returned key security risks. Many districts have implemented a policy where all staff members are required to have this key with them at all time. Some districts issue a lanyard, so the key is always within reach.

With many security solutions, the consequences of their implementation can lead to unintended results. Valid points can be raised with regard to either product, and choosing between push-button or double-cylinder classroom locks must be weighed carefully. As always, we are happy to assist you in providing the best possible security solutions. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to let us know.

Don Cherry, Jr., PSP, CCPR
Allegion, plc of New England
77 Wexford Street, Needham Heights, MA 02494
Cell Phone 508-335-0339
Fax 866-492-9337
Direct Dial 781-453-5309
Main Office 781-449-2860



Comments?  For more information on classroom security, check out this whiteboard animation video on the topic.

10 Responses to “Opinion: Lock Functions for Classrooms – Don Cherry”

  1. Aaron says:

    Having been a part of this type of discussion before – there is one counter point to consider: In the event of an intruder-response scenario with classroom security function locks, unattended students cannot lock the door without a teacher present.

  2. Pete Schifferli says:

    I fully agree with Don regarding the wisdom of using double cylinder classroom locks and assuring that all staff carry a common key to lock them from the inside. The Schlage L Series mortise classroom security function (L9071) is perfect for this application but lists for over $800.00 which is a shocker for retrofit applications and has in fact spawned many problematic but well intentioned jerry-rigged alternate devices. My suggestion is to use a “small-case” mortise deadbolt like the Yale 356 classroom deadbolt:
    Deadbolt operated by key outside and inside. Inside thumbturn will retract the deadbolt but will not project it.
    Allegion apparently doesn’t offer this function, but for about $185.00 list it fills the bill. Although it lacks an indicator, since most all classroom doors swing out, one can just push on the door to assure that it is indeed locked. My two cents.

    • Lori says:

      I think we offer the deadbolt as an engineering special but I know there were plans to add it to the standard functions. But are you thinking this would be in addition to a latchset? That would require 2 operations to retract the latch(es).

      – Lori

  3. Pete Schifferli says:

    Nope, deadbolt only; push & pull plates with a suitable door closer.


  4. Richard Page says:

    The dead bolt violates egress code.

    • Lori says:

      If the deadbolt is the only lock/latch on the door, it is not a code violation as long as:

      A) The door is not a fire door that requires positive latching,
      B) The door is not in a location that requires panic hardware,
      C) The thumbturn can retract the bolt for egress with no tight grasping/pinching/twisting of the wrist,
      D) The thumbturn is mounted between 34″ and 48″ above the floor, and
      E) No key, tool, special knowledge or effort is required to operate the thumbturn on the egress side.

      – Lori

      • Richard Page says:

        Thanks Lori you are absolutely correct (no surprise)it appears I was responding about the same time as Pete and didn’t see that he was only using a push pull.

  5. Chad Jenkins says:

    There are several problems with the ANSI F110 Classroom Security or Intruder Function lock sets. As uncomfortable as it may feel, one would have to imagine the scenario from a teacher’s point of view hearing gun shots and fearing for your life and others while children are crying. Flight, fight, or freeze sets in and panic severely limits a person’s cognitive abilities to the point that trying to navigate a key into a keyhole is a huge challenge not to mention remembering where they last left them. Putting a directional arrow on the inside rose trim letting the user know which direction to turn the key has helped, but there is no auditory or visual feedback that is given by turning the inside key signaling that the outside is locked (unlike a push button). The inside tail-piece mechanism is turned by the key to the right or left (depending) causing the outside to lock. The turning of the key does not give off any signal that something has changed with the inside mechanics of the lock (with exception of mortise applications with inside “indicator” trim) assuring you that the outside handle will not turn. You would have to open the door and check to make sure the outside handle is secure but this defeats the purpose of this function. This is why the most common service problem I have with this lock set is the inside tail-piece being twisted from someone over-torquing the inside key throwing the timing off. Some schools are using Storeroom functions that key the outside locked at all times which create logistical challenges with children coming and going. We have been raised as children knowing how to lock a door with a pushbutton. During the Virginia Tech shooting, many people were shot through the door trying to barricade it with their body because they could not lock the door and seek shelter. The ANSI F82 or F109 Entrance function lock set is a better way to address the need for a quick and reliable lockdown ability.

  6. Nicole Deschler says:

    “Any product which can be locked by any person means that in addition to rapid locking during an intruder-response situation, other scenarios become possible. These can include; lockouts as a prank, barricading a space during student-on-student or student-on-staff violence, and hostage situations.”

    When selecting the right lock for a school, there are other factors to consider in addition to the actual hardware of the product. A high quality lock could very well be the first line of defense in case a difficult situation presents itself. The right locking system will keep people safe and secure while also preventing other situations, such as pranks, from occurring.

  7. Michael Samra says:

    I think that the inside button/thumb turn is the best option. The school should be required to have a key system in place to avoid a lock-out. If an unfortunate incident occurs due to the inability to readily lock the door because an instructor refuses to carry a key, then the instructor and/or the organization that directs the instructor should be held liable. I know, it’s not a perfect world.

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