Harford task force laying out safety plan for school system

Suggestions include keeping track of visitors

May 13, 1999|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

In the wake of concerns over school violence, Harford County school officials have formed a task force with law enforcement officials to produce a systemwide safety plan.

Representatives from the school system, sheriff's office, state and local police, emergency operations and the fire marshal's office have made 17 recommendations to improve school security because of the slayings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

"My office has already committed to doing site plans for every school," said Harford County Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows. "We are going to compile video, photos of the buildings and plans of the schools so that if, God forbid, something happened, we would be ahead of the game."

Meadows said the committee discussed such proposals as training for teachers, a telephone tip line, and police notification of special events. Donald R. Morrison, spokesman for Harford County public schools, said the system's lawyer is reviewing the recommendations, which are subject to approval by the school board.

The school system has implemented a recommendation to secure all doors except for the main entrances at the schools, Morrison said.

"We have a greeter system," he said. "The greeter welcomes visitors and requests that they check in at the office."

Morrison said schools are also advised to keep logs of visitors, even if those visitors are staff members from the school system or other schools.

Custodians are also patrolling schools, checking for anything suspicious before and after school, he said.

Bob Williams, acting assistant superintendent for education services, said officials are trying to balance the need for openness with increased security.

"It's a fine line to walk because our schools have always been open and we have prided ourselves on being community schools," Williams said. "But with everything that has happened, we have to take measures."

Pub Date: 5/13/99

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