WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Schools are meant to be a safe place for kids to get their education, but all over the nation, school boards are having to come together to make difficult decisions about how to keep our children safe at school.
The WFISD Safety and Security Committee met at the district’s Education Center on Broad Street at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, to discuss the protection of students in the district.
Agenda items for today’s meeting included metal detectors, fencing, and security vestibules or access points for WFISD campuses.
In June 2022 the WFISD Board of Trustees discussed a proposal to add fences to campuses in an effort to create clear boundary lines, to better protect students and children at WFISD campuses.
WFISD Chief of Police Lahoma Vaughn said it all starts with the security measures already in place across the district.
“All of our doors are locked, except for the front entrances where we have our secure vestibules, so all of our campuses are secured,” Vaughn said. “But it’s about ensuring all of those doors are shut during the day and they’re locked.”
But how safe are these secured vestibules?
These areas visitors walk through to check into a given WFISD school were designed to welcome guests to school offices, but sometimes, they give direct access to offices, which could be unsafe.
“Some of our vestibules you can just walk right into the office,” Vaughn said. “We have old doors that can’t be altered. You’re going to have to put a whole new mechanism, whole new doors in. All of that costs money, so we’re looking at different alternatives where maybe we can put in a window or camera system to keep them from being able to access that office area.”
Also discussed at the meeting on Tuesday were metal detectors at WFISD schools.
Vaughn said only one metal detector is currently being used, despite the fact that the district has 24 on its campuses.
Vaughn said WFISD needs more officers in order to operate those metal detectors because they require at least five people to run three detectors, and that’s just at two entrances.
Vaughn said there are a few methods to tackle this problem.
“Maybe we could work out some type of rotation system,” Vaughn said. “See how they’re doing it in other districts and compare that, and see where is that window of opportunity where we can adjust people’s schedules. Just make it work.”
Other additions were brought up in the meeting, like adding fencing to set campus perimeters and making sure teachers undergo the appropriate training in case of an emergency situation.
However, overall Vaughn is confident that Wichita Falls ISD schools are safe.
“Our schools are safe,” Vaughn said. “As long as we’re following policy, what’s already set out for us to do, they’re safe. They’re secure.”
Another safety concern mentioned at the meeting was hoodies, so be on the lookout for updates and enforcement of the district’s dress code in the upcoming school year.