FISD Director of Security Kevin Haller said given the current climate there is more awareness at the campuses, and parents are asking more questions about the district’s safety measures.
“I think when things get quiet and there’s no problems, people get complacent, and I think there is now a new awareness at every campus,” Haller said.
At the March board of trustees meeting, Haller gave the board a presentation that outlined what security measures the district already has in place. At the same meeting, many parents were also present to speak about further enhancing those measures. Parents suggested changes, such as adding metal detectors, creating student ID badges, scheduling parent patrols and even parents paying a separate safety fee to help fund security measures.
Haller said staff is taking all these suggestions into consideration, and there is a possibility for changes to take place but that any changes would require board approval.
“We’ve been very fortunate in Frisco that what we’re doing [is working] well, and we have been very fortunate that we haven’t had a situation here,” Haller said. “I still believe the safest place a student can be other than with their parents is in a school.”
Current security measures
For almost a decade, FISD has partnered with the city of Frisco to utilize state-of-the-art software known as Situational Awareness for Emergency Response, or S.A.F.E.R. The software allows police, firefighters and emergency responders to have live camera feed from inside and outside of all FISD schools. There are more than 3,900 cameras.
Haller said if an emergency should occur at any campus, first responders have immediate access to the campus floor plans, photos and contact information from their squad cars, fire trucks and ambulances.
The city of Frisco conducts drills every year for the S.A.F.E.R. program in which first responders will show up to a campus unannounced and pull up any information they need from the S.A.F.E.R. software and communicate with campus administration.
“[The drills] are a good opportunity for our [district] staff and administrators to see [which first responders] would be responding to their campus,” Haller said.
FISD also conducts 10 fire drills and four lockdowns a year for students and employees, Haller said. The Frisco Police Department also conducts an active shooter training, in which officers put on a presentation at the campus level for district employees.
Right now the trainings occur as requested by the campuses. However, Haller said active shooter trainings may become part of the compliance training district staff has to do annually so that staff will have to complete both trainings every year.
Another security measure the district has in place is only having one point of entry at each campus for visitors during the school day. Visitors must enter the front office to gain access to the rest of the building before a second interior door must be opened electronically by staff. An automatic lock-down switch is available for the front door.
FISD board President John Classe said current discussions the board has had with district security revolve around what practices are in place now and having a better understanding of those systems.
“I think [one of the] biggest things and most apparent for community members is the 1:1 ratio we have with our [school resource officers] at every high school and middle schools,” Classe said. “The level of coverage that we have is something that I think is a positive, and we certainly want to maintain that if not enhance it.”
At surrounding school districts, there are similar safety protocols, such as access-control systems for admitting visitors, camera systems to help school administrators monitor campuses, drills and lockdowns.
Some other area school districts, including Plano ISD and Prosper ISD, use the RAPTOR electronic visitor management system. The system requires the visitor to present a driver’s license or other acceptable form of government-issued identification and checks the visitor’s identification against a nationwide database of registered sex offenders.
FISD previously utilized the RAPTOR system but that has since been replaced with the Hall Pass visitor management system.
Haller said if there is a neighboring district or another district elsewhere in the state or country that is doing something that has proven to be another layer of security, FISD would take it into consideration.
“The most important thing to have in a school district is a safe and secure environment for students and staff,” Haller said. “So, if somebody else has something that works, we would definitely look at that.”
FISD does not have a separate police department. The school resource officers, or SROs, at campuses are mostly FPD officers. A few of the officers are employed by the McKinney Police Department and the Plano Police Department.
“We stay constantly involved with our school resource officers, which keeps us connected to the schools, and it all maintains constant communication between the two; it’s really been working out well for us,” FPD spokesperson Radd Rotello said.
Each high school and middle school campus has a full-time SRO. Middle school officers are also responsible for two to three elementary schools. Officers are armed at all times.
Haller said in an effort for the district to connect more with police officers and increase their presence on campus, free lunch is provided to any police officer in FISD school cafeterias. Officers are also encouraged to use school grounds to complete routine paperwork. This is offered not only to FPD but also other surrounding police departments.
“The thought behind that is we want to get those officers into our schools so they get to know our schools, administrators and students first hand,” Haller said. “The more visibility of officers on our campuses, the happier I am.”
Statewide safety efforts
Since the Parkland shooting there has been an increased interest from across Texas to receive more safety training, according to Kathy Martinez-Prather, director of the Texas School Safety Center.
The Texas School Safety Center, or TxSSC, is an official university-level research center at Texas State University in San Marcos.
The TxSSC disseminates safety and security research and holds training for schools and junior colleges in Texas. FISD utilizes tools and resources provided by TxSSC.
Martinez-Prather said the center has had to increase its number of trainings because of the high interest in districts across the state.
The center will start to host more live webinars on civilian response to active shooters, and it will be educator-focused. Martinez-Prather said the center is looking to provide a series of those trainings throughout the spring and next fall.
“Whenever we have a situation [like the Parkland shooting] happen, there’s always an opportunity to educate our school folks on being more vigilant and more alert,” she said.