Scottsdale reviewing school security - East Valley Tribune: News

Scottsdale reviewing school security

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Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2003 10:12 pm | Updated: 2:14 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

While Gilbert High School averted tragedy Wednesday, Scottsdale school officials are looking to make their own schools more secure and improve their ability to handle emergencies.

Scottsdale Unified School District plans to review security at its 33 schools, and local police also have conducted a formal review of each site's crisis planning.

Even before five Gilbert students were arrested on suspicion of threatening a massacre at their school, officials were reviewing security in Scottsdale's schools. The Gilbert incident just reinforced the importance of doing that, officials said.

"We always take (security) seriously, and it's something like this that will remind the principals" to stay diligent, said police Sgt. Todd Muilenberg, who works with Scottsdale's school resource officers. "When something like this happens, it usually does light a fire again."

Associate superintendent Don Jefferies said he initiated the plan to audit all school sites last year, after he realized security and planning varied so much from campus to campus.

Scottsdale's newer high schools can be locked in case of emergency by securing a few exterior gates and doors designed to funnel all traffic. Other campuses are spread out and can have between 20 and 30 exterior classroom doors, making them more difficult to control.

So Jefferies began to draft a checklist, which will serve as a template for safety at all schools and guide teams of inspectors who will visit campuses, probably in April.

"It gives you a focus, and the real focus here is safety and security, and what better issue to focus on when you look at a campus," he said.

This semester, Scottsdale's school resource officers have met with campus administrators to review emergency plans using another form to record and track school compliance, Muilenberg said. No schools were significantly lacking, but having a formal review makes principals less likely to put off preparation, Muilenberg said.

"Things would get overlooked or forgotten or put on the back burner," he said. "In the past, the crisis plans were not the priority, whereas now they are."

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