Back in June I shared a graphic and a link to an article in the Huffington Post, which stated that there had been 74 school shootings since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Every school shooting is disturbing, but seeing a number like 74 shootings is enough to drive schools to use any methods possible to protect students and staff from the imminent threat of an intruder. As we’ve discussed before, many of the security devices being employed by schools are not code-compliant, and/or not a good long-term solution.
Since this statistic from Everytown for Gun Safety first surfaced, several media outlets have discussed the figures and established that there were actually 15 school shooting incidents in that time period, not 74:
Without starting a debate about gun control, the discrepancy in these figures does support my belief that while we need to be prepared for school shooters, we can’t forget about the thousands of other crimes that happen in schools each year, including assault, theft, vandalism, and sexual assault. Some schools are installing locks on classrooms which can be locked by anyone – staff member, student, parent, or perpetrator.
The Massachusetts Task Force Report on School Safety and Security was recently published and presented to Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick. There are very limited recommendations relative to physical security in the report, and one of the recommendations is for classroom doors to be lockable without a key (I disagree):
“An assessment of classroom doors should be conducted regularly. All classroom doors in a school should open out (as opposed to open in to a classroom) and have the ability to be locked from inside the classroom, without the use of a key. This will enable the adult in charge to lock a door without leaving the classroom. The installation of doors and locks should be in accordance with all relevant local and state fire codes.”
I spoke to a representative from a large school district, and when I asked if their district allowed retrofit security devices or the ability for unrestricted lockdown, his response was this:
“We do not allow, nor do we have any locks which can be locked without the use of a key (ie. thumbturns, push buttons etc.). If we see any of these locks when we do inspections, they are removed immediately. Locking a door without a key allows students to lock teachers and staff out, leading to unruly behavior or unlawful acts.
If the teachers buy a retrofit device and we see it on an inspection, it’s coming with us. Retrofit devices can be as simple as a wood wedge, hasp and padlock, slide bolts, hook and eyes etc. Anything that adds another manual function to open a door goes in the dumpster. The policy is citywide and covers elementary schools also.”
I know that some of you will agree with me (and the above-referenced school system) on this, and some will not. I value your opinion, so if you have experience you’d like to share with regard to school security, please leave a comment below.
Thank you to Ed Shimpock of Seven Oaks Doors & Hardware for sending me the video link, and to David DeFelippo from Tsoi/Kobus and Associates and Ed Marchakitus from Cornell Storefront Systems for the link to the Massachusetts Task Force report.