Mother concerned about child safety speaks out
Dear Pendleton County School Board, Teachers, Parents, and Concerned Community Members,
Like many of us, school shootings have been on my mind lately. I’ve contemplated what our country could do. I’ve pondered over gun laws, mental health, school security, ALICE drills and all of the like. After many days and hours of thinking, worrying, crying, and feeling anxious I thought to myself, “I hope this country continues to work on the big issues, but what can we do NOW to protect our children?” Here are some of my thoughts, and I’m going to start with the one I want people to focus on first, since so many people check out two or three sentences into anything nowadays. As a community, we can each spend $10 to protect our kids now, as a community, we value our kids lives enough to spend a few more dollars, and as school officials, the current ALICE training and entry procedures are not safe.
First off, I would like you all to know that I asked my daughter what her ALICE training was like. She told me that, “they put a chair in front of the door and hide in the corner by the cubbies.” I asked, “who’s chair?” She responded, “anyone’s.” I asked if they had a glass window above the door handle. She told me yes. I asked if they’d ever practiced moving the teachers desk, she said no. I asked her if the door opened in or out and she said in, but she’s one kid going to one school and there are four in our district, so it could be different for others. The conversation continued, but I’ll talk about that later. What I want you all to know now is that you can buy a, “Baracuda Intruder defense system,” on amazon for $160. I was considering just buying one for each of my kids and sending it with them via backpack, but what about the other kids? I want them all safe, not just mine. So, I bought my child other defenses and am bringing this defense solution to all of you. If we assume there are 20 kids in every classroom, it would cost every parent $8 to buy each class a baracuda. If each parent paid $10 and there is an average of 20 students per class times four classrooms (based off of what I have experienced), times 14 grades pre-K through senior year we could purchase 14 additional lock devices for libraries, gyms, art rooms, etc, That’s for just $10. Our kid’s safety is worth more than that.
Now, lets talk metal detectors.I’ve found them online for $800 minus installation. 20 kids per grade, times four classes, times 14 grades (preschool through senior year) is 1120 is $3 per student. So, for $13 dollars, we could not only provide sufficient door locks, but also provide one metal detector for each of the four schools in Pendleton county. Every kid is worth WAY more that $13. Grant it, the school would have to staff someone who is there to search kids who set off the metal detectors, but it’s well worth it.
Finally, I would like to talk about the school entry system and ALICE training. When I’ve picked up my daughter, I was never asked for identification. My husband and my kids great grandparents have also never been asked for identification. Grant it, I have to be buzzed in, but once in the office, there is a door directly beside me that grants full access to the school and especially the cafeteria and library (at pick up time most kids travel through this area). I’m just talking about one of four schools, but when I went to the middle and high school the office was well past the point of entry. It could be different now, but that was after Columbine and our schools were still trying not to inconvenience people. I’d be glad to be inconvenienced at the expense of my child’s safety. The second concern here is the ALICE training, which in the classroom seems inadequate, but when I asked my child what to do in the gym room, art room, hallway, playground, and cafeteria she had no idea. She thought the teacher would know. In a situation where someone is killing innocent kids, I think they should know where to go. She did say she thought if she was in the Cafeteria she’d go into the kitchen, but I spoke to a parent who had a child go on lock down in the cafeteria at her school and she said the kids weren’t allowed in the kitchen because there wasn’t enough room for everyone. I don’t want to let my response to this become too emotional, but I will say it’s better to save as many kids as possible than it is to get political. I’d also say, in a serious situation like this I’d prefer kids being crowded, even one on top of to other, to kids being in an open space directly adjacent to the soft entry point that is the considered secure entry point. The main point here is that I feel the kids should have a more encompassing ALICE training. I’d like training where they practice what they’d actually do in all situations and areas.
All in all, I don’t think anyone has done wrong. In a day to day situation, our schools are doing what they think is best. I want to draw attention to the fact that currently, it is only in very mournful situations that people start to consider what could’ve been done differently. I want our schools to be proactive now and see how the law helps things later. I would like the school to start a safety fund for door locks and metal detectors (I tried to, but I don’t work for the school so my only option is gofundme and they take a percentage). I would also ask that the entry system be made more secure and that the Alice training be greatly improved upon such that each student knows what to do in every area of the school, at all times.