The student news site of Seattle Preparatory School

Prep Safety Compared to Carolina Schools

October 16, 2018

Does Seattle Prep do enough about safety from campus intruders? On weekends and after school hours, many of the students and staff and have noticed strangers who walk on campus. This potentially can be a grave security concern for Prep.

Seattle Prep is a small community with only about 720 students and located in a safe, family-friendly neighborhood on Capitol Hill. According to the campus security’s job description, Mr. Chism and Mr. Burks, our campus security monitors, interact and supervise students while moving from the multiple school buildings and outside areas during school hours, after school activities and evening events. They make use of the campus surveillance cameras, in between patrols, to watch activity throughout campus. They approach any unknown person who is not wearing a visitor’s badge, verify the appropriateness of the person’s presence on campus, and then assist the visitor in registering through the customary process.

Prep’s intruder safety protocols are quite different than the two publics schools, Wren High and North Charleston High, in South Carolina where our new mathematics teacher at Seattle Prep, Ms. Young, taught for the past 10 years. At both SC schools, students and guests enter through the front door of the school, which was a huge change because both schools had several doors that opened to the exterior. Students and staff are always required to wear IDs on their necks, and students would receive detention if they did not wear them.

Another difference between Prep and NCHS is the presence of police officers. At NCHS, because the school is in a high-crime area, a police officer, rather than a faculty security monitor, patrols on campus at all times.

According to Young, “over the ten years I taught in SC, the security measures changed a lot because of happenings in the news. The biggest change was the active shooter response.” ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training provides a proactive plan for schools to handle an active shooter event.

Under stressful situations, school faculty members and students may not be able to effectively interpret the codes.

At Seattle Prep, Ms. Young was impressed by the silent fire drill, which was a first for her, “I think it is such a great idea because in a situation like a fire or earthquake, being able to have order and quiet could make a difference in the safety of students.”

In the years after Columbine, national statistics show that the majority of public schools have been locking and monitoring their single-entry point door and using security cameras, but relatively few schools have added metal detectors. They also have a written plan what to do in an event of a shooting and drilled students using the plan. Many communities have asked to bring in more police into schools, but civil rights groups believe that police in schools make safety worse for children due to the possible increase of severe discipline for minor infractions.

Most importantly, schools need to create an environment where students feel safe to share information. All Seattle Prep students need to be aware of new faces on campus and report any suspicious strangers on campus to administrators. In the neighborhood, it is best to walk to cars with a friend after school and during the evenings while avoiding secluded areas inside Interlaken Park even during daylight hours. Students around the US feel safer at school: In the 20 years from 1995 to 2015, the percentage of students who reported being “afraid of attack or harm” dropped from 12% to 3%.

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