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School security: 1 in 4 classrooms can't lock from inside

classroom door
Posted at 8:38 AM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 11:38:28-04

RAYTOWN, Mo.  — About a quarter of classroom doors in the U.S. are unable to lock from the inside, according to a 2020 survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.

It was one of the many issues uncovered after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

With the school year beginning, security has been top of mind for parents like Doris Canaday as well as administrators in a Missouri school district.

“It really caused me to think even considering to let them go back to school," Canaday, whose children attend Raytown schools in Missouri, said. "It just took a mental toll on myself and my children as well not knowing what you can expect when you go to school."

Education departments in many states do not track how many schools have classrooms with interior locks.

“In Raytown, all of our rooms have interior locks," Melissa Tebbenkamp, the district's chief information officer, said. "We’re in what’s called a soft lockdown at all times. So, not only do we have doors that lock, but our doors are always maintained in the locked position and closed. That way we can prevent that instant threat."

Raytown also has a tool called the barracuda, which adds another layer of protection in case a door lock fails, in every classroom. The district spent $33,750 to purchase the devices in 2015.

Tebbenkamp explained how the barracuda would help during an active shooter situation.

“They’re looking for easy access and we want to make that access as difficult as possible in every one of our classrooms,” she said.

Raytown also has a plan for exterior doors. The district has what’s called guided entry, funneling all visitors to one entrance at each school.

On top of that, the district installed one-way vision film, so visitors can’t see in but staff members can see out.

But are those tools enough?

“Never,” Tebbenkamp said. "Tools are never enough. We could have as many tools in our classrooms as we can financially afford and it won’t be enough. We have to have training. We have to have a priority."

For parents like Canaday, knowing the safety measures are in place gives her comfort.

“That lets me know that the teachers and staff care about the children in their schools,” she said.

The district also has a safety task force. It includes first responders, administrators, parents, and community members.

This article was written by Cameron Taylor for KSHB.