School Security - lacking?

I've had a few discussions with our Elementary school about security in th past, and it looks like it's time for another sit down. It's not that I expect our school to be Fort Knox, but I do have a strong opinion on my child's safety at school.

Over the last 2 years, I've dropped into school unannounced and uninvited on many occasions. I've never "checked-in". I've never displayed the proper identification or school visitor badge.

I've roamed the halls, went into classrooms, went into empty rooms, the library, bathrooms, playground. I'm not just a school stalker - I had legitimate reasons to be there. It's just that nobody has ever stopped me.

There are "people" in the halls, but not one has ever stopped to ask for my badge or to see what I was doing. I'm not well known at school. I'm just a regular mom-looking thirty something, that has never been stopped at any point. I even loitered near the office a few times just to see if they'd notice. Nope.

Well, today I had to head to school again, so I thought I'd test the school out again. My son woke up last night with horrible ear pain and I took him to the doctor first thing in the morning. I dropped him off right on time for school, but hadn't went to pick up his prescription yet.

Later in the day, I picked up his meds and made my way to school to give him his first dose. And here's where the test began. I knew where he was at the time I stopped in, so I thought about just walking in, finding him, and giving him his meds. But I decided to see what would happen if I stopped in to the office.

I went up to the receptionist, asked for my son by name, gave his teacher's name and the rest is basically history. She walkie-talkied to someone and within 2 minutes my son was in the school office being force-fed medicine by an unnamed stranger.

In fact, I had to give him 3 huge pills to swallow. That was it. I never gave my name. I never showed ID. I just asked for a student, gave the teacher's name, and he was there in minutes. The receptionist does not know me and with over 1200 students in the school, she couldn't hope to.

What if I had been a stranger and gone there to do harm? I stayed in the office, but I could have easily have met him in the hallway and intersected him out of adult view. He walked down to the office alone, and was expected by the school to end up back with his class all alone.

Since he was in the middle of an activity change, I walked him to where he belonged. No sign in. No badge. No worries. All of it - against the rules. Technically, the fact that I brought non-emergency medicine, and did not go through the school nurse was a school policy violation. But whatever. I think we have bigger issues here...

I'm tempted to "take him" off of school property and see what happens. It seems like a good idea for an undercover news story, but I'd hate to be the own to point out security lapses to local psychopaths. Instead, the principal and I will be having a chat. And my son and I will be reviewing personal safety procedures to make sure he knows what to do.


Lisa said...

How scary. My son's elementary school is locked. You must press a buzzer to be let into the building and go into the office (next to the door). You must show a picture id and sign into the school computer and wear a school badge to go anywhere in the school. The children are not allowed to leave the classroom without another child. If one is sick, three children go to the clinc (sick child and two additional children).

Good luck with your talk with the principal. All the children's saftety should be a priority at school.

Mary said...

Our elementary school (my youngest is in middle school now) had a policy of having visitors sign in at the office and then wear a button that identified you as a visitor. They didn't typically ask for my name when I visited, but I volunteered for our school's PTO and with a small school that had fewer than 160 students, they knew my name and recognized me by sight. It isn't' exactly a perfect system, but we live in a small town where most people know each other.

Emelie said...

Not that I don't agree with you, because I do, but maybe its not that great of an idea to kidnap your kid to do an undercover story. Maybe it would be different with your own child though. I'm attaching a link to a relating story of something that happened in Vegas about 2 years ago. These women definitly should have handled things differently, or at least thought about the possibility of how it could turn out despite their "good" intentions. This is a recent link of the end story & results.

Anonymous said...

That is Crazy! Are other schools in your area the same? Or is it just this one not enforcing the rules? If I walk through my sons school w/o a visitor badge I have practically everyone passing me asking me if they can help me or ask me where I am going. I would bring it up to your district too as well as the PTO!

Angela said...

Whoa!! Thanks for sharing that news link. So I guess taking him off school grounds is out of the question! But I've put a call into the principal and have started my complaints. It's wild out there!

B said...

Our school keeps the front door locked and we need to be buzzed in but then it is up to you to go into the office and sign in. They never ask for ID. AND I know for a fact that there are unsecured doors around the school, making the secured front door rendered useless.

There is also a general lack of adult supervision which I have brought to their attention and complained about repeatedly over the years to no avail.

Our school yard also isn't fenced in. So again, what is the purpose of the locked front door if someone can just snatch my kid off the playground?

They want you to think there is security but there really is none. You need to enforce to your children all of the safety rules as you would anywhere else.

Meagan said...

Our school last year had great security, but that was FL. Now we are in NV and there seems to be little to no security measures at all. It was a pain in FL sometimes to jump through the hoops, but I must say I liked it way better.

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