Parents to schools: Lock the doors

Published 9:07 am Thursday, March 15, 2018

The message from Heather Glass to Superintendent Dr. Darrin Hartness is simple.

Lock the doors.

Glass and three others took their concerns about the safety of children while in school to the board of education meeting March 6. Glass is horrified that despite the recent massacre in a school in Florida, the door to her child’s school, Cornatzer Elementary, remains unlocked, and visitors to the school are not being monitored, leaving the school “vulnerable to attacks,” she told the board.

“We cannot afford to get this wrong. I don’t want us to make headlines. I don’t want it on your shoulders that you didn’t do everything you could. Lock the doors.”

Two days after the meeting, Glass said on social media she was “thoroughly” checked when she went to the school for a conference. A front office employee checked her ID and then looked at her name tag to make sure it matched her ID, a stark contrast to a month ago when she, as a joke, signed in as ‘Your mama.’ She said she thought having that on the visitor sticker would make her daughter laugh but after thinking about how easy it was to sign in using a fake name and then being free to roam the halls, she realized how dangerous it was.

“I can guarantee you someone with ill intentions can walk in. I have letters from 15 teachers at all the elementary schools and at the high school who are afraid for their safety and the kids’ safety but they’re afraid to say anything for fear of retribution from the administration. They are terrified but they can’t say anything. They can’t even ‘like’ a post on Facebook.

“The board of education and the principals want to give the appearance of having everything under control but they are falling short. They aren’t doing free things to secure the schools. Simply lock the doors. That’s all we want. Lock the doors,” Glass said.

Shane Hegedic, parent of a child at Cornatzer, said waiting two weeks for the buzz-in system to be installed is too long.

“I applaud and thank them for the buzz-in system but they need to take immediate action. These doors have got to get locked,” he said.

The board approved at a special called meeting in late February the installation of a buzz-in system at all schools and changes to the entrances at some of the schools. Hartness would not say which schools would receive changes to their entrances but said there were additional safety measures already in place before buzz-in system installation is completed.

Faye Conlin talked about an under-door barricade system and said if 3,000 parents would donate $20 each, it would be enough to outfit every classroom in the county with a barricade. Hartness later said he was familiar with the barricades, but the Safe Schools Task Force had discussed them previously and decided “due to various other safety and fire code concerns they create, these devices were not recommended for implementation.”

Retired Special Forces Green Beret officer Jason Clark runs a company called Seventh Dimension, which, among other services, coordinates medical training in various settings, provided by a team of veterans who were special ops medics. Clark also has children at Pinebrook and North Davie and offered free of charge, a one-day course on how to stop bleeding and how to perform CPR for those he said are the actual first-responders, the teachers.

“In a school shooting situation, the first responder is a teacher in a dress, not a person in a uniform,” he said. “A first responder is the first person to respond and offer care. The average time it takes EMS to respond is eight to 15 minutes. A person with a femoral artery injury can bleed out in 30 seconds, and depending on the location in the body, a person can bleed out in five to 10 minutes. My guys teach how to adapt and utilize stop-bleeding techniques with materials you have around you. We teach how to patch yourself and others and how to triage (prioritize).”

Clark’s offer to the school board is not the first time he attempted to let someone know about the course.

“I called administration (Central Office) and never heard back. The lady said, ‘We really can’t help you, you need to call the sheriff,’ so I messaged the sheriff and never heard back. This is the first school district not calling me back. The other systems I pitched this to responded within a day, and my instructors have already gone into Harnett, Cumberland, Hanover and Onslow counties…I doubt I’ll hear anything back even after what I said at the meeting here.”

When asked if there would be any consideration to taking Clark up on his offer, Hartness said, “We appreciate the offer for first-aid instruction and already had another parent offer to coordinate training with one of our local hospital partners before the board meeting. Our district safety team will review the different training opportunities available and our school nurses will coordinate with staff.”