School shooting leads to questioning on safety

Student security discussed at district, state level

After the school shooting at Santa Fe High School, the district will increase the presence of law enforcement on all campuses.

Iris Bradbury

After the school shooting at Santa Fe High School, the district will increase the presence of law enforcement on all campuses.

Joseph Romano and Bobby Palomin

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

In the wake of the most recent shooting at Santa Fe High School, the conversation regarding how to protect the lives of the youth of America continues to rage on. While the finite details of what policy needs to be changed is still up for debate, state and district leaders explore ways to keep students safe at school.

While more changes are still being discussed, an immediate change is implementation of new locking mechanisms on doors, which would require people to be “buzzed in” to enter into the front office of the campuses.

“I think about our school here, the next step needs to be refining and reviewing our policy on how we do things here,” principal Michael Wahl said. “I think being a better communicator out to our parents and constituents about letting us know if they see something strange.”

The new program, STOPit plans to apply stricter rules and regulations this upcoming school year. It is Comal ISD’s new step toward keeping parents involved and connected to ensure the protection of students.

High schools in the district also will hire former military or peace officers, who will be armed members on campus. These individuals will not function as a deputy on campus but will be used for securing and ensuring student safety on campus.

Structural changes to classrooms are also to come to ensure swift action if a lockdown situation is to occur.

“Specifically happening on our campus, this summer every teacher’s door is going to be refitted so that they can lock the doors from the inside,” Wahl said. :So if we need to go into a lockdown it would allow for locking to be done quickly.”

Aside from implementing safety precautions, refinements to programs such as Comal Challenge and possible other programs can be expected to help educate kids at school on different signs  to watch for in  possible compromising situations.

Changes into dress code can also be expected, specifically in regard to wearing trench coats on campus, which will violate dress code affective fall 2018.

“ As we meet and get input from students and administrative teams other things might be banned because of safety,” Wahl said.

All these changes will begin in the upcoming school year with more changes to be discussed this summer.

“One of the security measures that we will be implementing over the summer is improved access control to our campuses,” Superintendent Andrew Kim said in an email to parents May 18.

The doors between the front office ad the main entrance will have new locking mechanisms and visitors would have to be buzzed in.

“We are also looking at installing campus-wide communication systems that will allow any staff member to put the school in lockdown from multiple locations in the building,” Kim said.

Kim also called for parents, student, staff and law enforcement to work together to stop threats using social media and the app STOPit to report suspicious activity.  

“It is unfortunate that we live in a world today that we have to contemplate the unthinkable, but it is the reality we live in,” Kim said. “We are committed to making each and every student, staff member and parent feel safe in our schools, and with your help we can make that possible.”

Similar school safety talk occurred during a three-day panel discussion headed by Gov. Greg Abbott May 22-24. The meetings included government officials, law enforcement and victims of the shooting in Santa Fe and Sutherland Springs.

According an article from The Texas Tribune, Abbott had “four specific  ideas that could be implemented before students came to school next fall.”

“The four ideas were:

  • providing a grant to the Texas School Safety Center,
  • creating a statewide threat assessment system,
  • expanding a Lubbock based program helping at risk kids avoid violent acts, and
  • making recommendations to schools about improving safety.”

He also mentioned “increasing the number of school counselors, creating incentives for students to share information about potential threats and evaluating an expansion of a state program that arms teachers.”

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggested changing the way schools are built and operated in another article by the Texas Tribune.

“We may have to look at the design of our schools moving forward and retrofitting schools that are already built,” he said. “And what I mean by that is there are too many entrances and exits to our over 8000 campuses in Texas.”

Having students enter through one single entrance watched by law enforcement and changing the security cameras to provide better views to authorities were two ideas Patrick mentioned.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email