Long before the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting or the Instagram incident at Ladue Middle School, the Ladue School District has had sophisticated and well-planned security measures in place for years.
Meanwhile, the district’s security planning and execution goes back more than a decade.
Jason Buckner, assistant superintendent for finance and the district’s CFO, has worked on issues involving district security. He gave an update to the school board Monday night.
“Our goal is to be 100 percent safe at all times in the district. Sometimes, our own homes are not even 100 percent secured,” Buckner said.
There was some discussion of level of involvement by students themselves. Jeff Kopolow, board member and retired teacher, said he has had more time in the high school building than anyone in the room (of the board members) and shared some observations. He wants students to have some level of “buy in” concerning school safety.
“I’ve seen cases where students will pop a door and let a stranger in the school, I’ve known of cases when there was a gun in the building, and that not a great thing. I don’t need training to know what a 38 (revolver) looks like,” said Kopolow.
Board President Jayne Langsam said the buck stopped at the district office.
“The onus is on us (as administrators and board members) to make sure our kids are safe at all times,” she said.
Buckner led a discussion in several areas.
As far as communication, preparedness and awareness is concerned, Ladue has:
- A crisis plan in place
- regular safety meetings
- technology, including 125 two-way radios spread throughout the district
- Administrator cell phones with text groups
- Blackboard Connect for text, email and text groups to parents
- Website filtering and monitoring
The safety team has a meeting scheduled with the Ladue police department personnel. Board members suggested adding representatives from the surrounding jurisdictions to that meeting.
Furthermore, all the district building have previously been secured—other than the high school—with a front door “buzz-in" system. Schools are equipped with security windows, locked periphery doors with intercom; updated security locks, 200 surveillance cameras and phone/public address systems in every office and classroom.
Security has been extended to district school buses with cameras on board etc. The district has a standing policy, no kindergarten or first-grade student is let off the bus until met by a parent or guardian.