District 35 takes another step for school security
Teachers line up along the outside of South School to help monitor the student entry from cars to door, as a key part of the security protocol.| Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:39AM
GLENCOE — The little girl’s mother kept knocking on the door, but the child shook her head.
She wouldn’t let her in.
Finally, somebody in the office let the mom into West School.
David Rongey, principal of the third- and fourth-grade District 35 facility, 1010 Forestway Drive, asked the child why she’d barred her own mother.
“You told us,” she said, “that we’re not supposed to let anybody in.”
It’s silly, of course, but it’s better than the other end of the school security spectrum: there are people, young and old, who are so polite that they’ll hold open the schoolhouse door for anybody, whether they know them or not.
It’s not just the entry of crazed gunmen that is at stake. It’s also non-custodial parents, who may try to sneak past school offices and accompanying security, where their names are listed, to kidnap their child.
Rejected spouses of staff members, similarly banned, may want to exercise grudges. Then there are former employees who may want to cause trouble.
For Rongey, it’s an illustration that no matter how hard you work on school security, it can be foiled with the best of intentions.
The school district, in the wake of the Dec. 14 shooting of 26 people at Sandy Hook School in Newton, Conn., will soon hire a security consultant to work on recommendations for Glencoe’s three elementary schools, though the district has been active in improving safety.
The Raptor identification-check system was installed in district schools last year, providing a tool to check all visitors’ criminal records. The district provides guidebooks to teachers for fire and weather emergencies, plus a crisis/lockdown instruction book that’s kept near the doors of all classrooms. Substitutes are required to read it, too.
One particular perceived deficit the consultant is expected to make recommendations on is the configuration of the entryway at South School, 266 Linden Ave.
That school has a short entry hallway, unconnected to the office door. People who enter are either met by a staff member or buzzed in. Once in, they have a clear path into the school.
School officials are looking for a fix that will force visitors into the office, which is seen as a better way to control entry.
Business manager Jason Edelheit said that other users of the schools, like park district staff members, want keys, but he won’t give them to them.
Find a janitor to let you in, he tells them, and don’t prop open the doors.
“All it takes is one door someone forgets about for someone to have access to our buildings,” he said.