Schools Review Security, But Some Say National Standards “Will Not Work”

Last week’s deadly shootings in Newtown, Connecticut again sheds light on security measures in the nation’s schools. 

Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, says while many procedures like lockdowns are commonplace in schools across the country, creating national standards for school security wouldn’t work.

“Because there are so many different situations, are we talking about an inner city school, a suburban school, a rural school, a small school, a large school, an elementary school, a high school? So you can see that there is so much diversity in terms of the type of school, the geography, the type of situation of the school, that one plan for all will not work.”

He says school emergency plans have become mandatory in the past decade. Common measures include locking entrances during the school day, employing buzzer systems and security cameras, and practicing classroom lockdowns and evacuations. Many of these are used at schools in South Hadley, Massachusetts, but superintendent Dr. Nick Young says his district is beginning an external review of security measures.

“It’s our impression, though, and what we’re getting from the authorities, is they feel we’re ahead of the typical public school, in terms of how seriously we have taken school security to date.”

But last week’s shooting, at a school with locked doors and lockdown procedures, shows no school’s security approach is foolproof, says Domenech.

“How do you prepare for something like that, unless you’re talking about setting up iron gates in front of the school, metal detectors, and armed police guards in front of it? And, y’know, turning our schools into prisons is not the answer, but certainly having procedures in place where staff, and students, and parents know what to do in case of an emergency is absolutely the way to go.”

Other administrators in the region say they feel their schools are secure, but they also say they are open to any new ideas that may come along.