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Step one in Kingman school security: Lock classroom doors

The KUSD school board listens to a presentation from Superintendent Roger Jacks, who sits on the left with his back o the camera, next to KPD Chief Robert DeVries and Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Captain Greg Smith.

The move is free and can be implemented immediately

If the Kingman Unified School District had its way, it would put a school resource officer in each of its campuses. But even if funds were available to do something like that, it would take one or two years to fully accomplish.

Given that, the district on Wednesday revealed its plan to beef up school security in the immediate future without breaking the bank. One of the aspects of the plan hinges on getting teachers to lock classroom doors when class is in session.

"This is something that can be done immediately" and without cost, said Kingman Middle School teacher Ron Bahre, who put forth the idea to the district and board. "Plus, (we'd know) our kids are secure."

The doors at KMS open outward and can be locked with a key from the outside. When used like this, the inside remains unlocked. During a lockdown situation, the doors can be locked from the inside, leaving both sides of the doors locked.

Doors throughout the district essentially work the same way, but some of them have different hardware, said KUSD Maintenance and Facilities Director Craig Schritter.

Bahre suggested creating and enforcing a policy that would have teachers locking their doors from the outside and holding them open during passing periods while students file into their classrooms. Once the bell rings, teachers would be trained to shut the door, which is already locked, and start their lessons.

Students late to class would need to go to administration and have someone let them into class, Bahre said. This will also cut down on students being late because they wouldn't be able to slip in and administration would be aware that they were late, which has consequences.

District staff as well as the school board supported Bahre's idea, but KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks said he wants to hear more from teachers.

"There's more traffic that goes through a classroom door (during class) than many would expect," Jacks said.

Students leave class to use the bathroom, go to the nurse and visit the office, Jacks said. The district needs to find out from its teachers how disruptive stopping a lesson to get up and to unlock the doors for a student would be, Jacks said.

Training for this procedure, should the district decide to move forward with it, would be comprised of showing teachers exactly how to lock and unlock the doors on a daily basis and during an emergency situation, Jacks said.

Bahre, who already does what he wants the rest of the district's teachers to do, said it's not disruptive at all. He only allows one student out of class at a time, and when the student comes back to class all he or she has to do is knock on the door and answer when Bahre asks, "Who is it?"

New alarm

Bahre also suggested coming up with an alarm separate from all other bells that ring on a daily basis that tells employees to initiate lockdown procedures.

Other parts of the district's plan include more training for employees, more training for administrators - possibly from the National Association of School Resource Officers, updating emergency procedures with the latest strategies, improving lockdown of facilities, making it so intruders can't see into classrooms, creating a policy that forces employees to wear identification badges, and mandating that schools conduct lockdown drills each quarter.

Additional aspects of the plan include looking into the feasibility of putting a security guard at every school, working with local law enforcement to see if agencies can park surplus police cars at schools, conducting table-top exercises with employees and law enforcement, installing security cameras at all district schools, providing law enforcement with access to school lockboxes, and exploring the idea of getting retired police officers to provide additional security.

Board member Debbie Francis said she has heard from several retired police officers that they would be willing to help with school security for free.

Panic buttons

District Finance Director Wanda Hubbard looked into the cost of getting panic buttons - similar to the ones used at banks - installed at all schools. She found out that it's quite cheap.

It turns out that for $50 a school, the district can get two panic buttons installed that would be connected to local law enforcement.

The idea of arming and training one employee at each school did not get much support from the board, the district and local law enforcement.

"Our thought is that's not a good idea," said KPD Chief Robert DeVries, who attended the meeting.

Things changed after the Columbine, he said. Officers now are trained to enter a school - even if they're by themselves - and neutralize the threat in an active shooter situation, he said.

"You literally place their life in jeopardy" by arming employees, he said. When an officer enters a school looking to neutralize a threat and he or she sees an armed employee, how is the officer supposed to know that the employee isn't actually the threat?


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