What It Takes, Security-Wise, To Visit a School

From dksdziizsb
a parent whose kids go to public school in an affluent area in Alabama:
Dear Free-Range Kids:

Today I had to surrender my license for the privilege of going into my kid’s school to help on a band project on this day. Because we all know that a bad guy with a gun will always stop at the front desk and hand over his ID before shooting up the school.

We seem to have adopted a national fear of everything, driven by the media, the government, and the security/fear industrial complex. Here’s what our school system now has (never a single incident since the school system was created in 1971).

*Mag-lock doors

*Fencing around any area that a kid might be during school hours

*Two-way mirrors at all entrances and where one might see in at eye level. So you can’t see into the school.

*Zillions of cameras

*Speaker/buzz in system

*Only ONE way into the school

*All other doors must be locked at all times during the day

*License confiscated upon entry and returned when departing

*Must be registered in their system

I would like to add that every single one of the faculty and staff that I have ever spoken to about this at any of my kids’ schools agree with me. They think it is ridiculous. They all lay it at the feet of the wimpy school board, superintendent and the school district’s attorneys. Having said that, I understand from some of them that the number of hysterical calls from moms after national news of an incident are in the hundreds. So the real fault is with the community and the fear they have adopted as a way of life.

Off I go to Sing-Sing…er…school! — Skeptical Mom

The thing that struck me most about this letter — and about the security system in place at my own son’s public high school — is the idea that paperwork stops psychopaths. Is there any evidence of this ever? Anywhere? – L


All are welcome! (To be treated as suspects.)

All are welcome! (To be treated as suspects.)


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85 Responses to What It Takes, Security-Wise, To Visit a School

  1. Doug September 15, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    My oldest just started kindergarten, and I see similar practices at his school.

    I look at it as a free market system: If you have enough people who are willing to jump through hoops to help, then you don’t need my help. If you want my help, you’ll acquiesce to my requests.

  2. BL September 15, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    “Having said that, I understand from some of them that the number of hysterical calls from moms after national news of an incident are in the hundreds. So the real fault is with the community and the fear they have adopted as a way of life.”

    “But things are different now!” they scream.

    Anyone remember how much violence there was back in the good ol’ days?

    Here’s a list of school shootings in the US. Check out the peaceful 1960s and 1970s. (The first one on the list actually goes back to colonial times, in the 1760s)


    For more general violence in the 1960s, check out this story on “1969 – a year of bombings”:


    But somehow schools were not prison-like back then. It wasn’t because we all lived in an Ozzie-and-Harriet utopia.

  3. lollipoplover September 15, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    I marvel at the *state of the art* security theater in our elementary schools that still don’t have air conditioning.

  4. Jim Collins September 15, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    I’m on the list of people to call if my six year old great niece gets sick or injured. I had to have a passport photos taken to give to the school when I went in to be added to the list. I now have a laminated card with a photo of my great niece and one of my passport photos and a PIN number. If they call me, at a number that I gave them, I have to give my PIN number before they will tell me anything. Once I get to the school, I will get a pat down search because I have a Concealed Carry Permit (they checked with the County Sheriff’s office) and then I have to present my card to get my great niece.

    I have had an easier time gaining access to the Special Weapons (nukes) storage facility when I was in the Navy.

  5. Cherub Mamma September 15, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    Don’t forget the myriad of security officers and police offers you must pass on the way into the building and the ones standing in the hallways all day long.

  6. Jessica September 15, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    I was utterly stunned when I moved to Canada from Long Island and went to drop off a forgotten lunch at our new elementary school. I stopped by the office to sign in/provide ID as I was accustomed to, and got laughed out of the room by the office admins. Parents are actually welcome at our new school! No security theater. As a result, there are always caring, aware adults around and the school is vibrant and safe.

  7. sigh September 15, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    Paperwork CREATES psychopaths.

  8. Donna September 15, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    Our school district started requiring background checks on parent volunteers this year (but only if you volunteer during school hours as if that makes any sense). As a result, I will no longer be volunteering.

  9. sigh September 15, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

    As for criminal background checks at schools: I want to know what percentage of “attacks” on children at school were perpetrated by someone whose criminal record at the time of the offence would have raised any red flags whatsoever.

    You just can’t know. And there’s the stuff of spirituality, right there. You either live life thinking it’s up to you to control every outcome, or you live your life assuming that there is Divine Order everywhere, and the actions you take are grounded in love, NOT fear.

  10. kate September 15, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Jim: I don’t understand. If the school calls you and you show up to pick up a sick child, you have to prove your identity!? Is this because someone might be monitoring phone calls from the school so they can sneak in to kidnap a child that is puking before the designated person arrives?

    Does this shool have so much money, they can afford to pay someone to deal with all this paperwork? Or are the staff so underworked that they need extra things to justify their positions?

  11. JulieC September 15, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    The governing body of our high school sports league decided that parents who volunteered to be timers at the end of the season big high school meets had to go through background checks etc. For those who don’t know, timers sit at the end of the lanes, in groups of three, and hit a stop watch and/or a button on a timing system when the swimmer touches the wall. This would be outside, in full view of 800 to 1000 people. And these are high school kids. How in heavens anyone thought someone would be busy molesting a fully grown teenager while there are people around is beyond me. Fortunately, most parents simply refused to go through the process and they didn’t have enough timers and they finally relented. Stupid beyond belief.

    If people just decline to volunteer, I think this would go a long way toward stopping this madness.

  12. C.J. September 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    I’m actually ok with some of these:

    *Two-way mirrors at all entrances and where one might see in at eye level. So you can’t see into the school.

    I’m not sure about the entrances, but I think the classroom windows should be one-way. Every Tom, Dick and Nancy who walks doesn’t need to see into the classrooms.

    *Only ONE way into the school

    Growing up, my elementary school had one way in, but multiple doors out.

    *All other doors must be locked at all times during the day

    I don’t know about locked locked, but should be equipped with fire door lock alarms

    I want to see my son’s school have common sense security measures, NOT super-max prison measures.

  13. Sandra September 15, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    For my first two boys, I was able to volunteer at the school, join field trips, etc. etc… for my last two, because I need a thorough background check (which I will pass, but since I have to pay for it and it is unnecessary, I will not comply) and fingerprinted. My daughters will never experience having their mama help out at school because of this insanity. Sad.

  14. SteveS September 15, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    The problem is that these practices have become the norm. In terms of risk management and avoiding liability, you have to look at accepted practices and industry standards. If it is the norm to have locked doors, IDs, and background checks and your school doesn’t do those things, they may be exposing themselves to liability (though very remote) that they don’t want.

    I don’t know that we can ever go back. I remember when I entered the workforce. Unless you were going into law enforcement or had some kind of security clearance, you didn’t have a background check for employment. Now, almost every employer does them. People are just used to them.

    I think if the author of that letter wants to blame “someone”, then they should blame society or all of us that have accepted this as the new norm.

  15. Lyndsay September 15, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    My oldest is in first grade and, because we are getting ready to move, she is technically at a school for which our current house is not districted. Until we move, she is not allowed to ride the bus (even if we drive her to our new home and she gets on there), but she also lives too far away to be classified as a “walker.” As a result, she falls under the category of “parent pick up”. This means that my husband has to go into the cafeteria and sign her out of school. Every. Single. Day. Especially challenging on the days when our two younger daughters fall asleep on the drive to pick her up. Because clearly, at 6 years old, she can’t be trusted to walk out the door and figure out which car has her father in it.

  16. MichaelF September 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    “I marvel at the *state of the art* security theater in our elementary schools that still don’t have air conditioning”

    This is so true! I forgot how hot it can get in my son’s elementary school until the heat wave last week and the note I had about making sure they had enough water. All I heard from the kids that night was “school is too hot.”

    Although they have all the theatre in place it seems to have been dumbed down lately, but living in a town full of lawyers that’s due to their influence or will pick up when one complains.

  17. Steve September 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Attention Skeptical Mom!

    Enough of playing the BLAME GAME!

    You said:

    “Today I had to surrender my license for the privilege of going into my kid’s school to help on a band project on this day.”

    NO, you didn’t have to surrender. You just didn’t have the backbone to say no and stay home. You also didn’t organize other parents who feel like you do and go to the administration to protest.

    You said:

    ” I would like to add that every single one of the faculty and staff that I have ever spoken to about this at any of my kids’ schools agree with me. They think it is ridiculous.”

    It takes no guts to agree with you. But have THEY protested these practices to the administration? Have they staged a walk-out? Certainly not. They would only protest if their salaries were being cut.

    You and all the faculty and staff who agree with you are The Wimps.

    You will do anything to follow your kiddies to school.

    You will survive if you don’t surrender to the school’s rules. Your life will not end if you miss out on helping on a band project. You don’t have to be with your children when they are at school. Back when I was a student, I honestly can’t remember parents coming to school to “help out” like they do today. Parents had better things to do with their time.

    I wonder what it will take before parents begin to say no to what schools ask to have the “privilege” of following their kids to school because of their “attachment disorder.” And I’m talking about the attachment disorder that parents exhibit.

    You said: “So the real fault is with the community and the fear they have adopted as a way of life.”

    Skeptical Mom – YOU are part of The Community. And YOU are going along with all the silly precautions.

    I would love to see a research study where a school instituted even more degrading “rules” to see just how far a parent would go in order to be at school with their children. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight.

  18. Wendy W September 15, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    Our district is currently remodeling the entrances of the elementary schools so that visitors will have to pass THROUGH the office to enter the school, instead of finding the office after they enter. Previously, the entrance closest to the office has been open, and other doors require a key-card from the outside. Visitors have to sign in and put on a sticker name tag.

    We homeschool, but our state allows us to join public school classes for chosen subjects. Both my boys also had speech therapy through the schools. As a result, our contact with the schools has been frequent and regular, and mostly at times other than the usual beginning/end of the day.

    When the kids were small, I always made arrangements through the office staff at the beginning of the year. The second year at this elem. school, the staff made me a permanent ID tag like the teachers wear, and I was able to freely come and go to drop off/pick up my kids, w/o signing in every time. At times I would stand in the hall waiting for a class to finish. Only once in 10 years did anyone question me. By 3rd grade, my kids were coming and going without my ever entering the building, and by 5th I was sending them by bike.

    At the middle school, I would make sure the office staff knew my kids by sight. Although we were an aberration in the elem. school, at the middle school and high school quite a few homeschoolers take advantage of this option. The kids come and go freely with never a comment from staff. At the high school, it’s the same, but now I make arrangements by e-mail with the registrar, and they have no idea who he is. Other students and his teachers don’t know my son is a homeschooler unless he tells them.

    On a side note- last year, the computer flagged my son as not having a complete schedule, but did not state he was a homeschooler. The counselor called him into the office the second week of school and asked him: “You only have classes scheduled for 3 periods, where have you been going the rest of the day? ” His one-word response; “Home.” He paused a few seconds before he clarified that he was homeschooled, letting her think he was ditching school! I got a phone call that day to verify!

  19. SteveS September 15, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

    I would love to see a research study where a school instituted even more degrading “rules” to see just how far a parent would go in order to be at school with their children. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight.

    You don’t even need a study. There is currently litigation in my state because several school have instituted a firearms policy that was in violation of state law. These schools were informed of these violations and chose to violate the law. Some parents decided to test the school’s resolve and were ejected by police for “trespassing.”

    If I had to guess, I would suspect that mild violations of some policies are probably ignored by many schools, but larger violations would end with the police showing up and the person being removed.

  20. Jenny Islander September 15, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    The one thing in the whole security dance I agree with is having visitors sign in and out at the office–so that if there’s a fire alarm, they know who-all is in the building for the outdoor head count. The receptionist grabs the list (it’s a paper list for exactly that reason) on the way out. It also helps prevent distractions in class because the receptionist can check with the teacher about what’s going on just then. “Can you wait here a few minutes? They’re taking a pop quiz.”

  21. shdd September 15, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    My first middle school sign out this year went smoothly. We filled out the required form everyone knew when my daughter would appear. My daughter wanted to come back for the last two classes. No problem. I was treated like a parent not a number and it was lovely. Now if they only had enough seats for lunch that would be nice. The school is slated for a remodel but my daughter will have graduated.

    I heard the local high school is getting more like a police state. They are trying to legislate what the students do during lunch. Let me eat lunch, work if they want to, and would it kill them to walk half a mile (round trip) to get a burrito or some pizza. The school said this year 9th graders are not allowed off campus during the school day. I believe they need to be on time but that shouldn’t be an issue for 14-18 year old students.

  22. invader September 15, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    “*Only ONE way into the school

    *All other doors must be locked at all times during the day”

    Pray tell me what exactly are you gonna do in case of a fire, or any other emergency evacuation that requires a hasty exit?

  23. lollipoplover September 15, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    “Our school district started requiring background checks on parent volunteers this year (but only if you volunteer during school hours as if that makes any sense). As a result, I will no longer be volunteering.”

    Our state (Pennsylvania) sent out requirements of school volunteers and I also will not be submitting to the required background check. At our back to school, the principal said they’ve delayed this requirement and our school would only ask of them for field trip volunteers.

    I’ve been volunteering at this school for almost 10 years. They KNOW me and my family. To now require me to be vetted as a volunteer at school because of Jerry Sandusky (who would have passed this background check too) is complete idiocy. There is already a shortage of volunteer help. Ridiculous requirements will just amplify this school and parent volunteer divide. Schools should be welcoming community volunteers with open arms, not stacks of paperwork.

  24. Renee Anne September 15, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    In order for me to chaperone/volunteer at my 5 year old’s school, I have to have a full background check and be fingerprinted. At my own expense. I’m not thrilled about it.

  25. Doug September 15, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    Renne Anne, why would you?

  26. Papilio September 15, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    With only one way in and all the other doors locked, you don’t even need to go in. Just bring a jerrycan of gasoline and a molotovcocktail.

    And I’ll never understand how schools can spend a gazillion on state of the art security stuff instead of on things that would actually make a difference (in a positive way…), like airco, or safe routes to school (instead of forbidding kids to bike to school and expensive busing systems), or – radical idea – education itself.

  27. Jim Collins September 15, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    It beats me kate. Her and her mother moved into a different district this past summer. My work location is closer than any other family member and my niece can’t drive due to eye problems. At her old school my Sister would get an e-mail, call the school office and my great niece would walk down the sidewalk while the school secretary and my sister watched.

    I really have no problem with this except for the school inquiring about my CCP and the pat down and if the blonde SRO does the pat down I probably wouldn’t mind that.

  28. EricS September 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    Exactly! It’s a perpetual problem. Starting with the parents. There are enough paranoid parents out there that cause a stink. School board has no choice but to cover their asses. So they implement all these stupid rules and regulations to appease the unreasonable and ignorant parents. Never, ever realizing they are just enabling more of the same mentality and behavior from said parents. It only takes a handful of idiots to ruin it for everyone else.

    Sadly, we now live in a world were paranoia/helicoptering is the acceptable norm. Everyone caters to the ignorant.

  29. Betsy September 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    I was thinking the same thing as Steve. I know several parents that have admitted that they volunteer in their children’s classrooms to spy on them and the teacher. Indeed, I know people that arrange for someone to watch their little ones (sometimes a paid provider!) so they can go in and volunteer at school. Lots of distrust among parents these days. I don’t remember seeing parent volunteers when I was a kid except on field trips and the class mom coming in for holiday parties (where they actually served FOOD!).

  30. lollipoplover September 15, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    “Back when I was a student, I honestly can’t remember parents coming to school to “help out” like they do today. Parents had better things to do with their time.”

    Me too. But our school does quite a few clubs and activities that we didn’t have back when my kids were in school that are volunteer run and I think are awesome (mine love the running club and color run their school did).
    I really only volunteer for things I enjoy- I like the class parties (and keep them simple and fun) and teaching sports and fitness to kids and making it fun. I also do the science day because I have an inner nerd who loves cool experiments. I usually get roped in to helping with dances and other events by my friends (and enjoy being involved) and like to encourage my older kids to pitch in and help out to set an example for the younger students. I don’t see it as a requirement but feel obligated to give back. Our school has a great community of families and the school is what brought us all together. Treating each other like criminals does not make for strong school communities.

  31. C. S. P. Schofield September 15, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

    There’s an issue that you may not have considered; these days a lot of Public School funding depends on attendance. I’ve read a couple of stories in the past few years that started out with the schools claiming to was all for the security of the children, and ending up admitting that the little sheep are being locked up so they can’t escape and lose the school the money associated with that number of bodies.

    It would also explain why so many school built in the last few decades resemble prisons; they are.

  32. Rook September 15, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    My sister’s son just started going to school and we live in Alabama. Ooo, she had some things to say! She’s not allowed out of the car when she picks him up or drops him off. She was very concerned those first few days because there was hardly anybody around to make sure he got to his class okay that first week or two. I don’t know if they have some of the fancy glass or super locks though. When I was going there as a kid, they couldn’t even afford to keep soap in the bathrooms.

  33. deltaflute September 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    Some of these are over the top, but the others I wouldn’t necessarily view as security against intruders. I like the idea of the fence because my son who is autistic has a visual barrier of what is and what is not campus. The one door thing for me is also a good thing. I’d like to think when I drop him off at the door there is someone there to make sure he gets to class and not wonder off. The Spec Ed teacher is usually there in the morning and she makes sure he gets into the building okay.

    I realize not everyone sees the fences and doors as being safety measures for students who wonder or elope, but that’s how I view them. It only takes a second for a teacher to loose sight of a child with autism.

  34. Gina September 15, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    It makes me so sad. I remember with great fondness running around through the schools with my friends, going back to visit teachers on all levels after I graduated, playing on the schoolyard on weekends. The schools were integral to the neighborhoods…
    These poor children have no “memories” to make, everything is so protected and programmed.

    I grew up on Long Island in the 1970’s. The most magical world of all in which to grow up.

  35. Donna September 15, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    Our school has had single published incident (it actually happened off school grounds during a trip). The perpetrator was not a school volunteer. It was Eliot Wiggington, the world-renowed educator and developer of the Foxfire books. He would have passed criminal background check at the time, but I highly doubt anyone would have asked him for one due to his stature in the education community. This happened when my brother was in early elementary school; he is now in his 30s.

    I know of no other incidents involving schools or school personnel for the entire school district over the last 30 years. Yet we didn’t have background checks until this year. Clearly they are a dire need.

  36. Dean Whinery September 15, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    At least there are windows. At my old high school, behind the tall fences with rolls of barb-wire on top, the first story window have been bricked in. The whole place looks more like a prison than a school. Am told that students, staff, and visitors must all be screened like at an airport.

  37. Emily September 15, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    My kids’ school is on a college campus, one of the top three largest. It’s on fraternity row. It’s not gated. The doors are locked and you have to be buzzed in. Anyone other than a parent picking up a child has to show ID the first time, but not after that. Since I have a list of people who may NEVER pick up my children, this doesn’t bother me.

    Freedom is encouraged at the school. The kids’ feild trips often involve sitting in on college classes, touring labs and other things.
    Security is low, but not lax.

  38. Beth September 15, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    “The one thing in the whole security dance I agree with is having visitors sign in and out at the office–so that if there’s a fire alarm, they know who-all is in the building for the outdoor head count.”

    This comes up a lot, and while I understand it in theory, it just makes no sense to me. We don’t have to sign in at the mall, or at the gym, or the library, at most jobs, or anywhere else people gather (and all places where there could be a fire or fire alarm). So why is it so vitally important at a school?

    My high school was 2000 kids, plus staff. If the secretary at the office had the paper list, there is absolutely no way she/he could have accounted for every adult that signed in that day with 2000 plus people milling about outside. It would have been ridiculous to even try.

  39. Shannon September 15, 2015 at 10:28 pm #

    My thoughts on this:
    1. How are these schools affording so much security, but have no money to hire teachers or buy supplies?
    2. Our school requires all of the Windows on classroom doors to be covered up. If something bad is happening inside the classroom, no one can see in as they pass by.
    3. Our elementary school is a mile up the road from a prison. We’ve never once had an issue relating to prisoners escaping and coming near the school, and yet the teachers are warned to be safe ‘just in case’ one happened to escape.
    4. Are we going to start CORI checking every adult who goes to a class play? Who watches a little league game? Who lives near a playground? Where do we stop treating every adult like a criminal?

  40. Tami September 15, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    I’m okay with most of these and I go into schools every day. In our area, it wasn’t the “stranger” that schools were worried about. It’s psychopath parents who show up at school high and with a baseball bat threatening everyone as they try to pull their kid out because the other parent left them due to violence and drugs. The security measures have stopped more than one crazy in my local area and while it won’t stop everyone, it usually slows them down enough for police to respond. Most of the teachers I know like it too, in part because they know you have a purpose for being there and aren’t just wandering around, which was also happening at some of our schools.

  41. Maggie September 15, 2015 at 11:34 pm #

    They treat parents like terrorists, and treat children like small inmates.

    It’s really sad.

  42. Cassie September 16, 2015 at 12:12 am #


    Yep, gosh I hope our school doesn’t change. I see some schools getting big fences erected. Ours still has those tiny ones, that the kids can climb over.

    There is a book in the office that we sign in when we go volunteer, I just reach around the desk and grab it, and sign it (and I cheat by signing myself out at the same time to save myself revisiting the office).

    I am one of the few parents who bothers to sign it.

    Love our school.

  43. sexhysteria September 16, 2015 at 2:28 am #

    I would never go near any school due to the high probability of mass killings every day.

  44. Elin September 16, 2015 at 5:52 am #

    As a Swede this seems so weird, the local library in my area is in a school and everyone can go into the library and the hall outside it. The rest of the school is not locked but you are not allowed to walk around there freely. Beyond the hall and the library you would be asked to leave if you walked around but there would not be any question of calling the police or so unless there was an actual incident. Children walk in and out of the library often without a teacher during and after school and there is no fear of abduction. I think some schools here have policies of parents having to report to the office when they come and why they come but it would not be that big of a deal if you forgot. The same way the school yard of our school is also a park and has a bike road through the park which is used by the public during school hours as well.

  45. lora September 16, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    What I actually wonder about with this is the parents with criminal records. My kids attend a magnet school in the poorest school in my city. I think many of the parents do have arrest and jail records (btw, LOTS of adults have arrest records). My kids know kids whose parents once were in jail. So, those parents do need to come to school….right? The only incident I know of at a school in my city was a disgruntled parent with an arrest record threatening school staff with a weapon. She was allowed to be there, of course.

    I don’t have any suggestions on how to deal with this. Just…think about it. The parents.

  46. Alex September 16, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    It’s been nearly a decade since I was in high school, and even back then the procedures annoyed me. A few examples:

    (1) There were certain areas we had to be at lunch – either the cafeteria or one of 2 covered areas with benches (and some of the space surrounding them). Teacher patrols were set up to where we couldn’t leave the school (not that I generally wanted to anyway) and couldn’t enter the buildings. There were a couple teachers whose classrooms I’d like to go to after I finished eating lunch, and I had the patrols mapped out well enough to sneak by them. The restrooms themselves would be reason to sneak into the other buildings at lunch, since the restroom by the cafeteria was one of the worst on campus.

    (2) In 9th and 10th grade I generally rode the bus but had my family pick me up from school if I had some kind of after-school meeting. One time a teacher was very displeased to “have to” wait outside school with me because my parent was late. I told her it’s fine if she leaves and that my mom is just late and even if she doesn’t come I could walk home (it’s maybe a little over a mile). But she wouldn’t have that, so she continued waiting til my mom showed up.

    (3) When we would go on a school-sponsored event (like a math competition), we were required to take a school bus or some similarly-armored vehicle. Carpooling with a teacher was not permitted. This meant that if only a few students wanted to attend the math competition in another part of the state, none of us could go. In my senior year I got sick of this and got my grandparents to drive me to a few competitions. I won a couple team trophies and just kept them myself rather than giving them to the school. They destroyed their old trophies periodically anyway when the storage closet got too cluttery.

    (4) Related to #3, in my senior year I needed to be at the big math convention of the year a day before all the other students (since I was a student officer for the convention that year), which meant their whole bus plan wasn’t designed with me in mind. Luckily, each student officer has a corresponding teacher who serves on the board that actually has power over the convention. But I wasn’t allowed to carpool with that teacher, who was planning to leave immediately after a school day ended. Learning this, I instead carpooled with the family of another student officer (luckily I wasn’t the only one that year from my school) who was leaving that morning. When I returned to school the next week I was promptly sent to the Principal’s office for skipping school. They couldn’t care less that I just won 3 trophies for the school. I doubt I missed much that day in school anyway.

    I could say so much more about school complaints. I guess I went off-topic cause they’re not all security complaints though.

    Getting back on-topic, I don’t ever visit (K-12) schools nowadays, but I have instructed college classes and worked as a tutor for 5th to 12th graders. I needed a background check (and I don’t have a problem with that), but I’m happy to say that our tutoring place doesn’t feel like a prison. With half of the students I rarely even see their parents. The parent drops them off, they come into the building, we do the tutoring, and they leave the building on their own and either get in the parent’s car or wait for it. A few students are even old enough that they drive themselves.

    With the younger students (2nd to 5th grade, who I typically don’t tutor myself) the parents do usually come indoors and my boss does keep better watch over the kids as they leave. But for 6th grade and up we just assume they know what they’re doing when they walk out the door. And so far no one has been attacked or abducted, and I hope it stays that way.

  47. Alex September 16, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    Oh, actually I have another relevant experience.

    Where I went to school the high school (grades 9-12) let out an hour or so before the middle school (grades 5-8), so sometimes I would go visit an old teacher I liked at the very end of the day, not so early that I’d disrupt class but not so late that the teacher would be gone before I got there.

    I learned very quickly this wasn’t something they just let you do. My former 7th grade teacher treated the 9th grade me as if I was some kind of foreign criminal when I tried to walk into the school a couple minutes after the dismissal bell. Ironically, I needed to go to the office to get permission to be in the school, but I couldn’t get to the office without passing by a lot of kids leaving the school. I didn’t really have a “good reason” that I thought the office would approve anyway, so I just got my old teacher to write me a note for me to show in the future. And while I was in high school, the note generally worked, at least at one of the school gates.

    In college it felt a lot riskier to try entering the school at the end of the day with just that note, and the school was getting more secure too. So that actually resulted in my drifting away a bit from one of my favorite teachers.

  48. Katie September 16, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    This has also, several years back, ended the old tradition of “alumni day” at my high school. (I graduated in 2000.) It was an unofficial practice on the last day of school before Christmas vacation (often 23 December), that people who’d graduated before would come back to visit. They’d sing in choir, chat in other classes, etc. I did it the first couple years after I’d graduated but now it’s impossible. Parents and other emergency contact people have some pretty big hoop-jumping to do; alums who aren’t parents of kids in the school, or anyone else, are barred. Sad stuff.

  49. lollipoplover September 16, 2015 at 10:05 am #


    “In our area, it wasn’t the “stranger” that schools were worried about. It’s psychopath parents who show up at school high and with a baseball bat threatening everyone as they try to pull their kid out because the other parent left them due to violence and drugs.”

    THIS. I can honestly understand the very real danger of domestic violence (which is so often associated with child abuse) and is so badly handled in our court system so it trickles down to schools. More than 18,000 American women were killed by their husband and boyfriends in the last 12 years. More women have been killed at the hands of their husband and boyfriends since 9/11 than Americans died during 9/11 and in all terror attacks and wars since. We have a Department of Homeland Security, but no Department of HOME Security.

  50. dg September 16, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    i think this is more than just a kid problem. i rode my bicycle to a concert at MSG (in NYC) this past saturday and always have some tools in my bag to change a flat or fix something if anything goes wrong while riding around the city. anyway, security is going through every single pocket/pouch of everyone’s bag, and everyone has to fully empty all their pockets and go through metal detectors. there’s not even any indication of what is allowed inside or not.

    needless to say my pliers and allen wrenches and mini-pump were clearly a threat, and after being intimidated and berated by the supervisor that needed to be called over, i was told that my stuff would be held at the ‘command center’.

    a command center. for a rock concert.

    the only feeling of control in this situation that i could maintain was to say “f’ you guys” and i left, swallowed the 120$ for tickets and will avoid going to anything at MSG (or Hammerstein Ballroom).

    what else can you do? all the other people going seem to simply accept this and just empty there pockets and allow their bags to be emptied and searched, and they continue to hand over ridiculous amounts of money to be treated like criminals.

  51. Suzanne September 16, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Jessica – You just made me want to move to Canada! I had no idea we could move just a few hours away and escape all of the security theater.

    I do not think there is any evidence that all of this does anything to prevent violence in schools. I didn’t review the link BL posted but I have read through it before and believe it’s accurate to say – violence inside schools is almost always committed by people who are supposed to be there (students or faculty) and “strangers” who commit violence at schools typically do it outside on the school grounds (or they just shoot through the door) which adds support to the concept that all of these security measures are a waste of time and money.

  52. Dhewco September 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    I fancy myself a writer. (The only thing I’ve ever published is poetry, but still.) I was toying with a part of a novel I’m writing where a guy wins the lottery and wants to use some funds to donate to his elementary school alma mater. Computers, that kind of thing. I wonder how someone would approach a school to do that nowadays. I wouldn’t approach the school board; I wouldn’t trust them to not divert funds to other schools in the district…where they want to put it.

    If you can’t get onto a school grounds to talk to the principal of that school, how would one make such a donation? They must get a lot of bs email and I would imagine that an email would cause them to send it to the spam folder…or is the opposite true? Are rural schools so in need of help the principal would probably jump on an email like that? If I was my character (my main characters have a lot of me in them, lol) I would want to visit the school. Would something like that get through without BG checks and blood donations? LOL.


  53. Shannon September 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    Not all of these are on topic but I feel like venting….
    – Our local school had a fundraiser walk-a-thon where the kids were basically doing laps in the field next to the school. The note sent home to us stated in big, bold letters that, during the walk-a-thon, no parents would be permitted on school grounds. What, exactly, did they think was going to happen?
    – My sister is a first grade teacher who occasionally gives out small candy treats despite the nutso rules about food in classrooms now. She had some lollypops to give out but the principal said that was a no-no, since her students might have a hidden dye allergy and lollypops are considered a choking hazard.
    -My sister was also told to take her mini-fridge and microwave out of her classroom because they are now considered dangerous, even though all of her students have microwaves and refrigerators at home and no one has been injured in the 25 years she’s had them in her classroom.
    – Our after-school program won’t let the kids sit on a small (about a foot tall) concrete wall that runs along one side of the playground (think retaining wall) because they might get hurt.
    – Friend’s daughter’s school won’t let them touch the snow during recess. I’m not talking throwing snowballs, here. I mean they have to stay in the shoveled off basketball court and literally not touch the snow. This is elementary school.

  54. september September 16, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    I am a federal employee with a secret clearances, my husband is active duty military. We are also active foster parents. Yet apparently none of the clearances we have are acceptable for the school our children go to and we’d have to do yet another one to be allowed to volunteer at the school.

    Needless to say, we do not volunteer at the school. We explained to our kids why and they understand.

  55. JulieC September 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    Dhewco –
    In my school district and the ones surrounding it, the school boards have adopted what are called “equity policies”. These policies are designed to prevent one school from having more than another. I live in a fairly prosperous suburb and there is a school that is fed by people living in gated communities where the average price of a house is $1.5 mm and another school where a third of the kids have parents living in small condos and apartments. So, the equity policy is designed to prevent the wealthy parents from contributing directly to the school to benefit their children and not the children in the other school. Our district has an education foundation that the bulk of the parent contributions go to and they then get divvied up. [Many communities in California have foundations since the whole state has a wacky system of funding schools.]

    More on topic: when my son was in kindergarten he wanted to be a pirate for Halloween. I bought him the outfit – it was all made of felt and Velcro included a little 8 inch dagger – MADE OF FELT! – that attached to the little pirate vest with Velcro. He wasn’t allowed to wear the dagger for the school Halloween parade because, you guessed it, it was a weapon! At least they let us come and watch the Halloween parade, though.

  56. Havva September 16, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    @Dhewco, I think a phone call would do the trick to get introduced and quite likely would get the potential donor a tour. I’m guessing the rules are about volunteering. A donor wouldn’t be a volunteer, and… well they would want the donation.

    Also not all schools have the physical set ups for modern security. Most of the the schools I attended growing up in the rural south-west, were built with clusters of small one story buildings with a hand full of classrooms in each building, and all the class room doors open to the outside. Usually there was no passage between rooms that doesn’t involve going outside. There were a few schools, the rival jr. high and the jr. college that had 2 story buildings. But even these were arranged like motels with each classroom having an individual door opening to the exterior. And in any case these doors almost always stood open in part because the schools didn’t have (and couldn’t afford) air conditioning.

  57. Beth September 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    Regarding: “What I actually wonder about with this is the parents with criminal records. My kids attend a magnet school in the poorest school in my city. I think many of the parents do have arrest and jail records (btw, LOTS of adults have arrest records). ”

    Even middle-high income parents can have an arrest or criminal record, and I always wonder what exactly these background checks are looking for. Does a stupid act or two in college count? Drunk driving? Shoplifting? Or are they *just* looking for violent crime and/or crimes against children?

    I might point out also that these schools have no problem sending children home to their “criminal” parents every night, the very same parents they won’t allow inside the building.

  58. Holby September 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    And the irony continues. As a classroom teacher, I can tell you that every school has, as a component of their mission statement, a goal to increase parental/community involvement and investment in their school. How is this even possible when the community is no more welcome than the parents in the school. Okay, okay. They may be TOLD that they are welcome, but the process of required to enter your child’s school, let alone just run in to give the teacher a heads up, a note or drop off something, sends a completely different message.

  59. Dhewco September 16, 2015 at 4:35 pm #


    That kind of policy is what my character (and I, since I put so much of myself in him) would be afraid of. He’s doing it for nostalgia and the fact that his school is a rural one with only one school for each ‘level.’ (k-5, 6-8, and 9-12).

    Anyway, I won’t hijack the thread. The schools in part of southern Georgia aren’t exactly prisons yet. I wanted to set my story in Atlanta, but I don’t know anything about the Atlanta school boards.

    Thanks to everyone who commented.

    I think the security theater commented on here is astounding. My elementary school didn’t even have a fence until I was in high school. Even then, it wasn’t locked. (It was more so the teachers and watchers had a place to stand to watch the kids. If they were called out of position, the teachers didn’t lock it behind them. My high school didn’t have a front fence until I was in computer tech training (vo-tech after high school).

    Kids no longer play on the playground equipment during off hours? Or is that a small town thing?

  60. Havva September 16, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    @Dhewco, my daughter was just playing on the local elementary school play ground yesterday. Kids definitely still do that…just supervision is now, unfortunately, required. There is also a public soccer field adjacent to the school… it think it is managed by the park department, but it might be managed by the school. It is certainly used by the school. And there isn’t any serious fencing to demarcate property lines. So depending on management there might even be adults playing at the elementary school after hours.

  61. Papilio September 16, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    @Elin: Haha, yes, I feel such a foreigner with topics like this 🙂

  62. Tommy Udo September 16, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

    A few years ago I had a contract to do some work inside the high security areas of a prison for the criminally insane in southern California, and I didn’t have to go through this much BS!

    When I was a kid I walked to and from school, starting in kindergarten, and so did all the other kids. My dad was busy at work and my mom was busy taking care of our home. The teachers and other school staff ran the school. It was a good system that worked.

  63. Jenny Islander September 16, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    @Beth: Yep, the very same parents who can’t help out at the school fair for a couple of hours because they are too sketchy can take home their own children for 18 hours 5 days a week and 24 hours a day on weekends.

    So either people who commit crimes against children always except their own children (ha!) or certain crimes are expected to make a person a danger in a school building full of children but not in a home with children in it (what?) or…what is the logic in this exactly?

  64. Dhewco September 16, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    from K-3 I lived directly across the street from the elementary school. No fence, so I could hop a ditch and be in my Kindergarten classroom. This was both good and bad. Good that it wasn’t far and bad because the teachers wouldn’t accept any excuses for lateness.

    Even in 4th and 5th, when we had access to a bus ride, my sister and I often walked to the school. It was a little over a mile at that point.

  65. Cari September 16, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    I have half-heartedly joked with my boys that they no longer go to school that they actually are going to prison and they provided they do as they are told, perform at the expected level they will receive their final release after 13 years of enduring that prison system. Oh, they do get the luxury of being able to sleep at home in their own beds and having the ever shortening summer off for ‘good behavior.’ And, like this mom explained our school system has pretty much adopted the same protocols to get access to our own children. Back in the late 70’s I went on a tour our of state’s penitentiary with some youth group friends, trust me getting in there was almost easier than it is to get into a school these days! Like the mom wrote, we haven’t had a single incident that would justify the added ‘security’ — I’m starting to think it was fed to school administrators from some ‘higher authority’ that no one can be trusted even the very parents that are raising the children the school system is supposed to be educating.

  66. Messy mama September 17, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    I refuse to make my kids wards of the state thereby subjecting them to all this bs. We homeschool and laugh at all this garbage. Trust me, if everyone said enough is enough and pulled their kids out things would change QUICK!

  67. Rebel mom September 17, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    I feel terrible for all the kids who have no say in this bureaucratic nightmare but are forced into it anyway. And at 5 or 6 years old! Not volunteering doesn’t impact the school as much as it does your kid who misses out on mom or dad being there to share cool experiences. Parents are handing over their little ones on a silver platter for a huge chunk of their lives and expecting them to not swallow the lies espoused therein. Good luck with that.

  68. Donna September 17, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    Dhewco – I can’t speak for Atlanta, but the schools in my area of Georgia are not unenterable yet. I can easily walk in the front door of my child’s school and talk to the principal. There is a second door that leads back to the classrooms that is locked but the front door is unlocked – basically you enter the school through an unlocked door into the main entryway where there is a secretary, but on the opposite side of the entry way from the front door is a big wooden locked door that the secretary would need to buzz you through to get anywhere else in the school.

    It is total security theater as a shooter could easily shoot the secretary and then jump over her counter and head back to the classrooms. No need to go through the locked door at all. I suppose that the need to shoot the secretary may give enough warning to get the classroom doors locked, but truthfully she doesn’t appear to be a formidable opponent so I would question the need to even shoot her to get passed her.

    As to whether the local schools can take individual donations, I believe so. Our PTO in the last year installed a basketball court, outside water fountain, shade trees and maintains gardens on the school grounds – none of which is funded by the district funds available to all schools.

  69. Dhewco September 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    One of my fantasies is to earn enough money from my books to fund a school building that I can name after my father. At the rate I’m going, it might be quicker to win that lottery.

    I hope that when I become a success (confidence, yay); the situation won’t have devolved to the point that it is impossible to revisit your alma mater. Of course, most of my early to mid childhood schools have all been shifted to new buildings, but that won’t stop me. Heh.

  70. teflonmom September 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    For every parent (like myself) who sees these measures as overkill, there is at least one who thinks our kids need even more “protection.”

    A mom at our local public school is a frequent volunteer and known to ALL of the staff. She complained to me that she can “just waltz in there any time she likes” and that nobody stops her. She also thinks her son’s classroom door should be locked at all times so nobody can enter the room from the hallway in the middle of class. She frequently speaks up at PTA meetings in favor of more security measures. She is a major proponent of the “you can never be too safe” philosophy. She has also never allowed her son to come to our house for a play date without her. He is 9 years old, has been to our house many times and has known my son for 4 years. Our home is not dangerous or violent and although we allow our own child certain freedoms we would never extend them to her child because we respect her right to parent as she sees fit. Still, she must chaperone all playdates. Thanks–just venting about my own experiences with fearful parents.

  71. Dhewco September 17, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    Weird question, when did they start to be called ‘playdates’? Have they always been and I started noticing 15-16 years ago? I don’t remember anyone calling them that in the 80s.

    If I was a parent, I’d be super offended if a parent insisted on supervision of their kid hanging out with mine. My son/daughter would have to convince me this friend is their ‘bestest in the whole world’ before I’d get over it. Of course, I’ve only been a ‘sorta’ step-parent (I dated a girl with kids for 10 years, but never married) and you parents may think I’m talking out of my rear.

  72. Donna September 17, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    “Weird question, when did they start to be called ‘playdates’? Have they always been and I started noticing 15-16 years ago? I don’t remember anyone calling them that in the 80s.”

    I think they started being called playdates when adults starting setting them up themselves. Around the 90s. I seem to remember the term originally being used half-jokingly by parents who were setting up playdates largely for themselves to hang out with the other parents. It has now expanded to all kid interaction.

    But these days it is virtually impossible for kids to make their own play arrangements except with the neighbors. When I was a kid, I asked my mom if I could invite a friend over, called the friend and invited her, she asked her mom and a plan was made. The parents never communicated with each other. Today none of my daughter’s friends have house phones. All telephone contact is via the parents’ cell phones which is awkward for kids. My kid talks on the phone with friends far, far less than I did at her age and I was not a big phone talker.

  73. Jenny Islander September 17, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    @Messy Mama: Some people can’t, though.

  74. Dhewco September 17, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

    I know people must be tired of ‘when I was a kid’ comparisons, but every thread on this blog makes me hark back. When I was a kid, no older than 10, I was able to walk across the town to the library 2.5 miles away. In the summer, we had no extra-curriculars except the city pool. We’d go there on our own at the age of 10.

    I was able to go anywhere I wanted as long as I was home by a certain time. My parents only punished me when I was late. If that happened, I got the dreaded spanking and I deserved it. As far back as I can remember, I was able to walk two miles to the TG&Y (think Wal-Mart/K-Mart). No store manager called police even though we were clearly prepubescent.

    I met a new friend in that store while playing the Atari 2600 setup there. He invited me home to play games and I didn’t even call home. As long as I was home, it was okay. I survived without a stranger abduction.

    My parents would probably be arrested or I would be sent to a home.

  75. V Jacob September 18, 2015 at 12:13 am #

    I’m an itinerant teacher. One of my assigned schools is in a small rural village that has virtually no crime. I go there once a week to teach one child for 45 minutes.

    I’m not allowed to park in the school parking lot. Have to park across the street. Enter the small vestibule, make eye contact with the receptionist and wait for her to buzz me in the door. The security guard sitting at his custom built raised podium glares at me as I walk in the door. Go in the office and sign in. Then wait for receptionist to fill out a name tag for me because the school board issued i.d. I’m wearing isn’t enough.

    Then move to another desk and wait to sign for a key because each hallway door is locked. After entering the locked hallway I go to the locked class room door and knock. Teacher comes to the door and asks for the password. I hope they haven’t changed it since I haven’t been there for a week.

    Finally get my student and have to navigate back through the locked hallways to get to our little classroom. Forty five minutes later I have to walk her back to class through the locked hallways and repeat the password process. Then go to the office to sign keys back in, surrender name tag and sign out.

    I’ve requested a transfer to another school. I’m an employee, not a terrorist.

  76. Ann September 18, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Same basic rules at our school. SO. STUPID. How about we try opening the doors back up? and actually teaching empathy and compassion for other kids and members of the community? Wouldn’t they be more protective of someone they knew if there was an emergency?

  77. Diana Green September 19, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    Don’t volunteer.

  78. Jon September 20, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    Things are sure going down hill fast. The high school in my town is actually more insane than the middle school. The highschool fenced off the whole campus, forbid students from leaving during the day, have security check points at the gates, it’s madness. The middle school on the other hand, has an open campus, no fences, and at the end of the day the kids all just leave, they can bike or walk, or even (gasp) get into any car they feel like in the pickup area, there’s no school staff so much as watching. You can even sign any kid out during school hours without even presenting ID (the security consisted of, if they didn’t recognize you, asking for either the kids SSN or their home phone number), because (double gasp) the kids are trusted to speak up if they get to the office and they don’t know who’s there picking them up.
    I’m sure the elementary school has changed by now, but when I dealt with them last about 10 years ago, except for the really early grades, it was the kids who told the teachers where they were supposed to go after school. If they were getting picked up, all that involved was staying with the staff in a group until they saw whoever was there for them, then they could go. No ID checks, the children recognizing a parent or trusted adult was enough (WHAT???). Starting in (triple gasp) 3rd grade (!) the students were just released at the end of the day, and it was up to them to get themselves to pickup, the buses, or just walk or bike. Younger kids could too, but they had to have permission from parents.
    Although I will note this is the suburbs far from a city.

    It’s a true miracle there weren’t dozens of kidnappings and hundreds of molestations per day! 7 and 8 year olds being trusted to take a 15 minute bike ride home, ALONE?? It’s different these days tho, the kidnap/rape/dump dead body in ditch rate would be 100% if we allowed that today. Hopefully we won’t revert back to this insanity when my little one ventures off to the deadly, predator infested schoolgrounds in a couple years.

  79. PG September 20, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    Schools look like prisons. Some schools even have police officers assigned to them. When a student messes up, it’s no longer detention, it’s a criminal offense. It seems nowadays, parents drive their kids from the house-prison to the school-prison. At least I live in a rural area where the insanity hasn’t caught on yet. I feel bad for the kids that try to learn in a school surrounded by physical barriers.

  80. Richard September 21, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    Its pure theater.

    At my daughter’s school, they go through the same rigamarole. The thing is, if somebody wanted to come in and do anything when everyone was in the hallways (maximum chaos), they could. If someone wanted to come in during the day they’d have to get buzzed in of course, but strangers get buzzed in all the time. They’d have to go to the office to sign in, naturally, but at that point they’re inside the building and presumably armed and dangerous.

    Most people are mostly good most of the time. Very very few people are terrible – yet more and more frequently we’re setting everything up as if the opposite was true, and worse doing a completely ineffective job of it.

    I’d still hate it, but I’d have more respect for the security measures if they’d actually do anything useful. As it is they’re inconvenient for everyone and instill a sense of paranoia and helplessness into our children, which is worse.

  81. Kate September 21, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    Our oldest is a kindergartener and her school has similar security requirements. She occasionally needs to be given medication during the school day and due to the obscene cost of the medicine, my husband or I will go to the school to administer it during the school day when it’s needed. My husband had to go give it to her a week into the school year and in order to get into the building he had to state his name, the name of the student he was there to see, and the reason for his visit while being watched on cameras. That just got him buzzed into the building – then he had to show his driver’s license while they cross-referenced to make sure he was listed on our daughter’s emergency card and scanned his license into some kind of system. They gave him a visitor badge and made him leave his license in the school office, to be retrieved when he left. It took him longer to get checked in/out of the school building than it did to actually go to the nurse’s office, have our daughter called out of her class, and administer the medication.

    All of the schools in our district now have bullet-resistant film installed on all exterior glazing (I’m not sure how much good that would do given that the teachers have to keep the windows cranked open due to lack of A/C). The high schools installed a Raptor system which checks a visitor’s ID to screen for registered sex offenders and those with restraining orders, custody issues, known gang members, etc. If the system gets a positive “hit” on someone that the system deems a threat, then law enforcement is automatically alerted. If the system doesn’t hit on the ID, then the individual is buzzed into the school and a visitor badge is printed saying that they’re “safe”.

    School security has gotten so tight that safety advocates are now concerned about the use of door barricades and other devices, or restrictive policies that could make students and staff unable to egress safely in the event of a fire. They are well-intentioned measures that have the potential to make kids LESS safe in school. In the state of Ohio, the legislature has passed a law making it illegal for the state fire code to ban the use of door barricade devices in schools – essentially the state of Ohio has said that security trumps safety! I’m not saying that these devices and policies aren’t useful, but we shouldn’t be focusing solely on school security at the expense of students’ ability to egress or for first responders to gain access in the event of other emergencies (which are statistically more likely to happen in our nation’s schools than are active shooter situations).

  82. Kate September 21, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    And this Raptor system does beg the question – what about parents with a criminal record, or even those who are *gasp* on the sex offender registry? Our daughter’s school is a Title 1 school due to having our city’s public housing project within its catchment area. Some parents/guardians do not speak English and I’m positive that there are kids whose responsible adult relatives have criminal records or are undocumented residents (and therefore have no driver’s license or state-issued ID). The company that sells the system to schools doesn’t indicate what databases are used to “screen” visitors or what criteria warrants barring entry to the school and calling law enforcement. And this is just to set foot inside the school – not to volunteer or have any contact with students.

    I’m in favor of security measures that actually have a purpose and potential benefit, not security theater. I oppose some of this for the same reason I think the TSA is useless – it’s intended to make people feel safer, not to actually make them safer.

  83. Puzzled September 22, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    I don’t think not volunteering solves the real problem: an entire generation raised to believe that the world is dangerous, spending all their time in age-segregated environments where the only people of a different age they will encounter are authority figures, and that doesn’t understand community because they live in concrete walls entirely cut off from it.

    I remember being in school and seeing recent graduates, home on break from college, coming to visit their old teachers. I looked forward to doing that. Then I went to college, came home on break – and was stopped at the gate of my old school and told I couldn’t enter.

    And yes, what about those with a record? Are we going to have laws requiring that they enroll their children in school, then forbid them from coming into that school? What if someone has a criminal record and lives too close to school to qualify for bus service, but too far to qualify as a walker (or the school doesn’t allow walkers), requiring the parent to come pick up the kid? You must come in to get them…but you can’t?

    Heck, now that we’ve decided to put cops in our schools and arrest kids instead of the perfectly workable tactics of the dean yelling at them and giving them detention, are we going to then ban them from coming back in because of their criminal record? (If that record consists of disturbing class or talking back to a teacher, that might actually make more sense than banning the parent who peed outside 15 years ago…)

  84. Jenny Islander September 23, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    My high school English teacher told this story. Back when he was in high school–in the same building, actually–he found a can of shrimp on the beach. It had fallen overboard from a catcher-processor. It had been bobbing around for some time: it was more spherical than cylindrical. Being aware of the astonishing stench that rotting shrimp can produce, and wanting to get out of school on a sunny day, my teacher went to school early with a small nail, a clothespin, and the can of shrimp. He clamped his nose shut, set the can of shrimp on the ground outside the main air intake for the building, then used a nearby rock to punch a hole in it and ran like hell.

    15 minutes later, there was nobody left in the building. He just went over and stood with his class; he wasn’t even counted tardy.

    What are the fearmarketers going to do to stop something like that–armed guards and barbed wire?