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Local Schools Review Security Protocols After Connecticut Shooting

Lisa Miller

School leaders in the Charlotte area are taking a closer look at security procedures following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. 

At a press conference Monday afternoon, CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison said the shootings prompted the district to ask “tough questions.” For example, what would the response have been if the shooting happened in a CMS school? 

CMS is considering posting police officers in all schools, including elementary schools.  As an extra precaution, the district is doing that for at least this week.  Up until now, officers were only posted in middle and high schools. Morrison also said school officials are talking about keeping front doors of schools locked and installing buzzer systems at all schools. 

Many CMS schools are spread out over a large campus and include mobile classrooms.  CMS Chief Operating Officer Millard House says security will factor into the discussion when designing new schools. 

Most CMS schools keep their front doors unlocked.  Visitors are directed to an office where they have to get a badge.  Schools usually conduct lockdown drills once a semester.  Most districts in the area have similar security measures in place. 

Morrison said security procedures are important, but knowing students is even more so. 

“That is actually the best deterrent when our students feel so comfortable with their administrators and teachers that they come forward with information, realizing that we’re going to take it seriously, and we’re going to act on it, and we’re going to protect them,” said Morrison.

Several neighboring districts like Cabarrus County and Iredell-Statesville Schools say they’re reviewing security protocols, but they don’t expect to make any significant changes.

“We don’t have any reason to think our schools are any less secure this week than they were last week.  Although, I know even as a parent myself, there’s a lot of apprehension about packing your second or fifth grader up and sending them off to school,” says Dawn Creason, spokeswoman for Iredell-Statesville Schools.

Local private schools are also examining security procedures on their campuses.  At Charlotte Catholic High School, students have key cards to get into the school.  Principal Jerry Healy says they’re thinking of expanding that system and also getting a better video camera to monitor the front door, but he acknowledges even that won’t completely safeguard the school. 

“You can’t anticipate or prevent everything from happening. It’s sad but you can’t. And what happened is just horrific,” says Healy. 

Other Schools On Security

Ronnye Boone, spokeswoman for Cabarrus County Schools:

“In light of the situation that happened in Connecticut, Cabarrus County Schools is not making any significant changes per se to our security protocol.  But what the incident does remind us and help us to be more mindful of is that we always need to continue to be diligent about the safety and security of our schools.  And this gives us an opportunity to review our procedures and see where improvements can be made.” 

Gaston County Schools:

“The district is reviewing all school safety plans.  School officials also met with local law enforcement leaders to assess our plans and to make sure all necessary safety steps were in place.”

Charlotte Latin Headmaster, Arch McIntosh:

“Most often incidents at schools involve students who are currently enrolled.  So one of the things we focus on consistently, over and over again, is to be sure that we have a climate and a culture at the school in which there is a high level of trust between students and faculty and that no child is sort of unwatched or unknown.”

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.