Wednesday, November 7, 2007

SuccessTech Parent: District Safety Plan Would Work Better If People Actually Worked

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2007 at 3:00 PM

There’s been a lot of talk about the new metal detectors, X-ray machines, and security guards that Cleveland school officials are scrambling to install in the wake of the SuccessTech Academy shooting. The multi-million dollar hardware and “human-ware,” as district officials like the call it, are supposed to make students and staff feel safer, and allow parents to breath easier while their kids are in school. But just installing the equipment and staff hasn't made anything safer, says Charles Blackwell, a volunteer at SuccessTech and head of its parent-teacher organization. Yes, Blackwell says, the school now has metal detectors at its back entrance. But no one’s there to man them after 9 a.m. This leaves a major entrance entirely unprotected throughout the school day. Then there are the armed guards upstairs — who are a great comfort to have patrolling the halls, except that they’re not allowed to actually interact with students, Blackwell says, because they're armed. Finally, there is the guard at the front entrance who's supposed swipe people with his security wand. But Blackwell says the guard not the most dedicated wander, and only does his job when the mood strikes him. Safety first, kids, unless I don't really feel like it! All of this, of course, has left Blackwell (and other parents, no doubt) feeling distinctly uneasy about their kids' safety. Of course, district officials say they are going to do more, which includes hiring more guards. But “between now and then, it’s wide open,” Blackwell says. And that’s not a comforting thought for a parent. -- Lisa Rab


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