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How Safe Are Our Local Schools?
DAYTON -- After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, school safety has been at the forefront of educational leaders. But how safe are our schools? Reporter Jackie Couture went to the Miami Valley's largest district to let parents know how safe their kids are when they're not at home.
"Safety and security, we don't want to be the bad boys. We want to be the one to do these audits, to go around ... I think an administrator wants to know where his weak link is," says Jamie Bullens, Director of Security for all of Dayton Public Schools.
At Ponitz Learning Center, Bullens encouraged us to do our best to get inside the building. A few doors down, we were in. There were no kids in the class and the automotive teacher stopped us to ask what our business was.
At the next door, a student was spotted coming down the stairs. We knocked, but the student didn't let us in. Instead, she said to go around to the front door.
At Edison Elementary, we knocked and a staff member let us in.
"Fine line between safety and security and civility; treating somebody nice that we have to walk, but we have to make sure the students and faculty are safe," says Bullens.
There were plenty of staff at both schools who called up to the front office to report a suspicious blonde walking around pulling on doors.
A look into other schools:
UNDATED -- We are approaching the one-year anniversary of a dark day in America when first graders, as innocent as you get, were massacred in their classroom.
It had school leaders across the country re-thinking their security and response, so it made ABC 22/FOX 45 wonder: How safe are our schools?
Reporter Jackie Couture joined school security teams and tested the schools.
At an elementary school, a door was unlocked and Jackie was able to walk to the front office undetected. A custodian unlocked the door for 20 minutes to bring in some products and forgot to lock it when finished.
"We have extensive security measures in place through the project, but they're only as good as the people inside," says Huber Heights Superintendent Susan Gunnell.
In Kettering, the schools are locked down as of this week. The district put together a safety committee after the Sandy Hook tragedy. It's made up of teachers, staff, parents and police.
"When you see something like that happen, everybody just thinks, you know, it can just happen anywhere. So we're doing everything we can to keep our kids and staff safe while they're at school," states Ken Lackey, the Director of Business Services.
In order to completely lock down, they had to remodel.
"It was easy to come into the front door and get access to the rest of the building," Lackey adds.
Principal Kari Calborn says she's worked hard with her staff at Orchard Park Elementary.
"Being mentally prepared. Just thinking about all the what ifs, being able to reflect as a team, saying if this would happen, how are we to respond? What are our responsibilities?" Calborn adds.
Centerville didn't want to participate, nor did Springfield, but both superintendents say they audit their safety practices often.
"We don't need to create drama. I can tell you by going to one computer that all our doors are locked," says Springfield City Schools Superintendent David Estrop.
Estrop walked ABC 22/FOX 45 through the district's extensive surveillance system that helps keeps the kids safe.
No matter the approach, it's clear safety in our schools is now a culture.
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