The Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has brought the heart-wrenching issue of school safety to the forefront again.
Congress and several state legislatures are introducing measures that would beef up security in schools, not only with teacher and student training and physical improvements to school grounds, but by using federal and state funds to purchase alarm systems and security cameras.
Like many of you, I send my children to school each morning hoping they come home each afternoon free from harm. Implementing security measures, such as surveillance systems, is an important first step to ensure all of our children are protected while they learn.
Smart Cameras Keep A Watchful Eye on Students
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 75 percent of public schools report using security cameras to monitor their buildings. The surveillance systems keep a close eye on hallways and common areas and allow school officials and resource officers to monitor school grounds in real time for fights, thefts and other incidents.
The cameras often can catch what school employees miss.
“We had a break-in about four years ago, and we were able to identify the people who vandalized one of our schools,” says Timothy Grant, technology director at Warren County School District in Virginia. “Not all of our secretaries and administrative personnel have a clear view of the front door to see who’s coming in and who’s leaving, so having the monitors in the office is helpful.”
Best Practices Help Keep Schools Safe
Schools are using security systems to both monitor buildings in real time and review past incidents. Districts also are hiring former law enforcement officers to help make the best use of the systems.
“The beautiful thing is how the system can morph between those two purposes,” says Drew Lane, executive director of information and communication technologies at Shawnee Mission School District, located just outside of Kansas City, Kan. “If you have a fight in a stairwell, you can review the video to see what took place, who the participants were and who was observing. If you have an intruder, you can use the camera in real time to track that person’s movements and direct law enforcement to their location.”
In this issue, we explore the trend of security cameras in schools. To learn more about how school technology professionals are handling security measures in K–12 districts, read our feature, “Digital Surveillance Systems Help Keep K–12 Students, Staff Safe from Harm."