EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

January 11, 2013

School chief briefs committee on security

HAVERHILL — Police officers have maintained a visible presence in city schools and on school bus routes since the Connecticut elementary school massacre Dec. 14 and the school bus BB gun shooting here that occurred a few days later, Superintendent James Scully told the School Committee last night.

Scully briefed the committee on a number of measures aimed at protecting school children in the wake of the incidents, including vigorously enforcing rules that everyone who enters a school building must show picture identification.

“All of our schools have controlled access,” he said. “Everyone who enters a school is captured by photograph or video before they are let in. At some schools the technology is outdated and we’re looking at modernizing, but when the system breaks down it’s usually because of human error, such as when a monitor admits someone that they shouldn’t have let in.”

The superintendent said no one is supposed to be admitted to any school until and unless their face can been seen by the person monitoring doors, and that identification is required to dismiss a student.

Scully said security technology at the high school was recently upgraded and that officials are looking to do the same at other buildings.

“There are security guards at the high school from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” he said, noting that up to 500 people enter the high school after hours on a typical evening.

Scully said the district began improving security before last month’s incidents.

“There are been 5,000 ideas for protecting students since the (Connecticut) tragedy,” he said. “I’ve heard everything up to and including arming crossing guards.”

Scully said there have been lock-down drills and security meetings at most city schools in recent weeks, and that the district is looking at replacing old doors at several schools with modern ones that include security features. Principals have been given state-of-the-art Walkie Talkies that allow them to talk to each other and administrators in an emergency, he said. The new devises were used for the first time during the BB gun shooting incident, he said.

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