When making decisions about school security, it’s crucial that methods used to lock classroom doors are also SAFE. Can the door be unlatched with one operation and with no key, tool, special knowledge or effort? Is the hardware operable without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist, and is the releasing hardware mounted between 34 and 48 inches above the floor? In an emergency or when a door is locked by an unauthorized person, would school staff or first responders be able to enter the room using a key or other credential? There are many classroom barricade devices being marketed for school security that do not meet these criteria when installed on doors with existing hardware.
Guy Grace is the Director of Security & Emergency Planning for Littleton, Colorado – the school district where Columbine High School is located; he is also the chairman for the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS). I spoke to Guy a few years ago about the classroom security in Littleton – classroom barricade devices are NOT used there. They are not used at Sandy Hook Elementary School or Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School or Red Lake High School either. All of these schools use code-compliant locks.
Guy is a recognized expert on school security, and shares his expertise regularly so other school districts can benefit. In 2018, the Security Industry Association (SIA) named him the recipient of the SIA Insightful Practitioner Award. The Popular Mechanics Guide to Safer Schools includes a case study of the Littleton Schools, and when Campus Safety Magazine announced that they will no longer accept advertising for door barricade devices, Guy publicly supported their decision with this statement on behalf of PASS:
“The Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) fully supports the stand Campus Safety magazine and the Campus Safety Conferences are taking on barricade and ‘door-blocker’ devices. We stand with other organizations including the National Association of State Fire Marshals, Safe and Sound Schools, Door and Hardware Institute, Door Security and Safety Foundation, Security Industry Association and many more in opposing the deployment of these devices. In addition to life safety and fire code challenges, these devices also violate the ADA law. There are code- and ADA-compliant solutions that work and are currently in use in most schools. According to the Sandy Hook Commission, there is not one documented instance of an active shooter breaching a locked door. We have additional concerns with many of these devices that interfere with the efforts of emergency responders to quickly and safely reach staff and students during emergencies. At a time when many districts are re-evaluating their security measures and making new investments, it is now more critical than ever to ensure the use of proven, vetted and code-compliant security practices and make the most of limited resources.”
– Guy Grace, PASS Chairman
I’m grateful for Guy and all of the others who share their insight and help to keep schools safe.