Effective Practices : School Security


School Security
School Operations Section 3

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Keys:
1. Does one key open all doors in your school, or do some rooms require separate keys or access? If some rooms are keyed separately, how is the need for a separate key established?
2. Who issues keys to new employees? Are keys numbered or otherwise marked and are those numbers logged when the key is issued? Does this same individual collect keys when employees leave the school or is that handled by the person or group handling the employee’s severance?
3. Are there any policies or practices with regard to keys that are particularly effective at your school? What are they and why are they effective?
4. If you could change any of your school’s policies or practices with regard to keys, what would you change and why?
Security Systems and Alarms:
5. Does your school employ a security or alarm system? Is the entire school alarmed, or are there separate alarms for some rooms or structures and not for others? If only some rooms are alarmed, how is the decision made as to which rooms should be alarmed?
6. If your school has a security system, who is it that issues alarm codes to employees? Does each employee have his/her own code, or is there just a code for the building or room with no employee i.d.?
7. Does your school utilize closed circuit cameras for any portion of the grounds or buildings? Describe the manner in which closed circuit cameras are utilized.
8. Are there signing requirements or other privacy issues that must be addressed when closed circuit cameras are in use? Describe these and other issues which affect your school’s use of closed circuit security cameras.
9. What about your school’s use of alarms and/or security cameras is particularly effective?
10. If you could change some aspect of your school’s use of alarms and/or security cameras, what would you change and why?
General:
11. Does your school have a written visitor policy? Describe your visitor policy and attach a copy of the policy if available.
12. What about your school’s visitor policy is particularly effective? What changes would improve the effectiveness of your visitor procedures?
13. What other systems, devices or practices does your school have in place to promote the security of the site, students, staff and visitors? Describe the effectiveness and needed improvements for each of these systems, devices or practices.

Keys:

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Does one key open all doors in your school, or do some rooms require separate keys or access? If some rooms are keyed separately, how is the need for a separate key established?
Most classrooms in a Waldorf school are all keyed alike, with all employees enjoying access to those rooms. A few rooms are typically separately keyed including the music and woodworking rooms, the administrative offices, the science lab, the school store and the maintenance building. These rooms are separately keyed due to the value of the materials stored there (music, woodworking, maintenance and school store), for safety reasons (woodworking, maintenance and the science lab) or due to a need for confidentiality of personnel and financial records (administrative offices).

A system of master keys and sub-keys is used in many schools. All of the school’s keys look the same but, in actuality, they may have different capabilities. The master key opens every room on the campus. Very few people receive a master key; most employees are issued a sub-key that provides access to selected rooms only. For example a class teacher might receive a sub-key that opens all of the classroom doors except woodworking and music, while only administrative staff members would receive a sub-key that allows access to the administrative offices.

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Who issues keys to new employees? Are keys numbered or otherwise marked and are those numbers logged when the key is issued? Does this same individual collect keys when employees leave the school or is that handled by the person or group handling the employee’s severance?
Schools control the issuing of keys by limiting this function to one person. The person responsible for key issuance is typically one of three people - the facilities manager, the administrative chair, or the operations manager. Keys are numbered and logged out, and are usually collected by the same person when someone leaves the employ of the school. In rare cases the person or group who is handling a delicate termination is responsible for collecting the key.

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Are there any policies or practices with regard to keys that are particularly effective at your school? What are they and why are they effective?
The ability to cut our own keys on site is a great benefit to the school. The $500 investment in the equipment has been repaid many times over in stress reduction and in the time saved from going back and forth to the hardware store to have keys made.

Having multiple levels of access through the various keys has been a real help. People can access everything they need but we don’t have to worry about special rooms being disturbed by people who don’t have a sense of ownership for those spaces.

We are very conscious about collecting keys when people leave the school.

Numbering each key and logging it out is a simple process that works well.

We issue keys to all Board members. As a result it is fairly easy to get a room opened up for a special event as a fairly large number of people have keys to most rooms.

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If you could change any of your school’s policies or practices with regard to keys, what would you change and why?
We had a difficult time a few years ago with some teachers feeling uncomfortable with the fact that the same key could be used to access any classroom. People were concerned that someone might come in, borrow something, and fail to return it. The school overcame this issue by making it an item of raised consciousness for some time, and the school culture is now such that people are quite considerate of others’ belongings.

We need continued vigilance in the work to retrieve keys from employees who leave the school. We are moving toward a formal exit interview process that will improve the consistency of our efforts in this area.

We were fairly lax with keys early in the school’s history before we developed a number of special rooms such as music and woodworking. It is a difficulty process to alter our habit life in this area.

Security Systems and Alarms:

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Does your school employ a security or alarm system? Is the entire school alarmed, or are there separate alarms for some rooms or structures and not for others? If only some rooms are alarmed, how is the decision made as to which rooms should be alarmed?
The approach to the use of security and alarm systems varies from school to school, and is in many ways a reflection of the community in which the school operates. Schools in urban locations have the most complex alarm systems, while those in more remote regions seem to have less need for this level of control. Not surprisingly, when an alarm system is used it typically is in place for the same locations for which key access is tightly controlled - administrative offices, science lab, music, woodworking, maintenance and the school store.

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If your school has a security system, who is it that issues alarm codes to employees? Does each employee have his/her own code, or is there just a code for the building or room with no employee i.d.?
Schools with an alarm system report that the codes are issued by the same person who issues keys to new employees. Newer alarm systems permit the ability for each employee to receive his or her own access code, while in older systems this is not possible.

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Does your school utilize closed circuit cameras for any portion of the grounds or buildings? Describe the manner in which closed circuit cameras are utilized.
None of the schools in our survey use closed circuit cameras on their sites.

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Are there signing requirements or other privacy issues that must be addressed when closed circuit cameras are in use? Describe these and other issues which affect your school’s use of closed circuit security cameras.
Due to the lack of schools’ experience with closed circuit cameras on school sites we do not have procedures to include in this area. Schools who are considering the installation of closed circuit camera systems are encouraged to speak with their general counsel prior to the installation of cameras about any required signing or privacy issues that must be addressed.

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What about your school’s use of alarms and/or security cameras is particularly effective?
The limited number of rooms which are secured by an alarm system means that we have very few difficulties with the system.

We have members of the school staff which live quite close to the school and who are unable to respond quickly in the event of an alarm.

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If you could change some aspect of your school’s use of alarms and/or security cameras, what would you change and why?
We are discussing putting a chain across the parking lot at night and on the weekend. The parking lot is a frequent gathering place for local youth during off hours, with resulting problems such as littering and unauthorized use of the grounds. (Note: several schools reported the installation of electric gates at the entrance to their schools which are kept closed when the school is not in session.)

General:

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Does your school have a written visitor policy? Describe your visitor policy and attach a copy of the policy if available.
Every school studied reported having a written visitor policy. The policy requires all visitors to sign in and out when visiting the campus. This expectation is supported by signing at the entrance to the school notifying visitors of this requirement and directing them where to go to sign in.

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What about your school’s visitor policy is particularly effective? What changes would improve the effectiveness of your visitor procedures?
Schools noted two areas of difficulty with their visitor policies, school layout and the definition of a visitor.

Visitor policies are most easily enforced in more traditional school settings in which all of the classrooms are located within a single structure. The more entrance doors there are to a school, and the more separate buildings a school has on its property the more difficult the visitor policy is to enforce.

The definition of a visitor is a key to the successful implementation of a visitor policy. The policy must be clear as to whether current parents are visitors. What about prospective parents visiting the school? Are uniformed personnel such as the UPS, FedEx and other maintenance personnel considered visitors, especially those that come to the school on a quite regular basis? The school must be clear in its definition of who is a visitor, and be consistent in the enforcement of its policies in this area if they are to work as intended.

Several schools noted that it has trained its faculty and staff to question visitors without an appropriate badge by asking people, “Are you a visitor here? How may I help you?” This approach works well for the vast majority of visitors who have a legitimate purpose on campus, and is quickly able to identify inappropriate visitors who do not belong on campus.

At times parents ignore the sign in procedure, particularly when they are making a “quick visit” to drop off a lunch or some other minor errand. We remind them gently of our policy and ask them for our help in keeping our campus safe.

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If there were something you could change with regard to your school’s facility management program, what would it be and why?
Several schools noted that the most effective policy in this area is eternal vigilance in the efforts to protect the campus and the students.

Another aspect of protection for students and staff is an extensive emergency preparedness plan, supported by regular drills and an appropriate inventory of needed supplies to see the school thought a variety of disasters and safety issues.


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