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Safer Schools by Design - Arizona School Facilities Board

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Making K-12 School Sites Safer
and More Secure by Design
Safer Schools by Design
What security requirements does the Arizona
Department of Education currently have?
• The State Legislature requires compliance with ARS 15341(A) 34, "Arizona School Emergency Response Plan,
Minimum Requirements".
• Neither the minimum requirements of the Response Plan
or recommended resources on ADOE's web site
currently recommend physical security systems, unless a
site specific security evaluation determines that such
measures are advisable.
Safer Schools by Design
SFB staff conducted a literature search on school
security. Five of the most comprehensive sources are
cited below:
"Safe Schools Facilities Planner - Health and Life Safety, School
Climate and Order", North Carolina Board of Education
"Safety by Design", Fayette County Public School System, Kentucky
"Designing Safe Schools", Randall Atlas PhD, Atlas Safety and
Security Design, Inc.
"Florida Safe School Design Guidelines", Florida Department of
"Safe Schools Guide-Selected Strategies and resources",
Oklahoma State Department of Education
Safer Schools by Design
Two key findings with regard to
physical security systems:
Finding number one:
None of the reviewed literature recommended
particular security devices. In fact, several studies
suggested that a "cottage industry" has developed
around recommending and selling such devices to
school administrators, regardless of whether there is
any demonstrated need.
Safer Schools by Design
Finding number two:
There was general agreement that securing a school
involves considering the school location, community
variables, grades served, campus layout, and policies
and procedures that are in place.
School safety relates to “school climate”. The climate
of a school involves how students relate to each other
and to teachers and school staff.
Safer Schools by Design
Security System Review:
1. Entry-control approaches: (limited entry/exit)
a. Security guard(s)
b. Personnel operating a wand or metal
detection station
c. Badge/ID card reader
d. PIN number on a keypad
e. Biometrics
Safer Schools by Design
Security System Review:
2. Building Entry Alarm Systems:
a. The system detects intruders after hours in
controlled or hidden areas.
b. It can be used to signal emergency personnel when
immediate help is required.
Safer Schools by Design
Security System Review:
3. Duress Alarm Systems:
a. Simple panic button mounted in classroom.
b. Pager like device with panic button worn by school
staff. Alarm signal sent to alarm console. Code
identifies teacher but not the specific location of the
c. Same as previous except alarm signal indicates
identity and locates and tracks the device.
Safer Schools by Design
Security System Review:
4. Camera Systems:
a. Greatest strength lies in identifying suspects
after the fact.
b. Catches criminal behavior as it occurs only
when continuously monitored.
Safer Schools by Design
Site Design Best Practice
Safer Schools by Design
Enclosing a campus with fencing is more to keep outsiders
out than to keep insiders in. No fence can keep out
someone determined to enter the campus.
Best Practice Recommendations:
•Locate site entry points in high visibility areas where they can be easily
observed and monitored by school personnel.
•Use fencing to limit the number of entry/exit points onto school grounds.
•Utilize fencing that does not permit footholds:
(8-foot chain link fence with small mesh (1-inch to 1-1/2 inch) is
considerably less expensive than wrought iron and provides an excellent
barrier. Unlike a 6-foot chain link fence, it is difficult to pull up on the fence
and the small mesh doesn't allow toeholds.)
Safer Schools by Design
School sites with well designed, well lighted parking lots
and vehicular routes are easier to manage and keep
students and staff safer.
Best Practice Recommendations:
•At a minimum, provide adequate lighting for auto parking areas, bus
loading/unloading zones, pick-up and drop-off areas, bicycle parking areas, and
walkways leading to building entrances.
•Provide exterior vandal proof lighting at building entrances and along glassed
areas of the building.
•Restrict access to parking to a limited number of controlled entrances.
•Locate visitor parking adjacent to main entry and administration.
•Close unsupervised entrances during low-use times.
Safer Schools by Design
Exterior design features can be configured to enhance site
Best Practice Recommendations:
•Shrubs, trees and landscape features should not impede visual surveillance on
the school site.
•Design landscaping and tree placement to eliminate roof access.
•Design covered walkways to eliminate opportunities for gaining access to roofs,
windows or other upper level areas.
•Consider applying slippery finishes or coatings to columns.
Safer Schools by Design
Exterior building design elements can be arranged to
provide natural surveillance and enhance security.
Best Practice Recommendations:
•Design walls and architectural features that do not allow footholds or
handholds. Columns and other supports should discourage climbing by
using smooth building materials and finishes.
•Avoid putting unnecessary niches in exterior walls that can create hiding
Safer Schools by Design
Building Design Best Practice
Safer Schools by Design
The ideal main building entry should be located at the front
of the school near the administrative areas. When
entering the school, students need to feel safe within a
protective learning environment.
Best Practice Recommendations:
•Locate site entry points in high visibility areas where they can be easily
observed and monitored by school personnel.
•Consider vestibules at main entry doors where visitors can be channeled into
the main office area to increase security.
•Minimize the number of unmonitored entrances into the building(s). Secure
secondary entries.
•Always locate administration areas adjacent to main entries and lobby.
From The
Safer Schools by Design
Open sight lines allow for natural surveillance by both
students and staff.
Best Practice Recommendations:
•From the main entrance there should be unobstructed sight lines through the
library for easy observation. Low stacks placed parallel to the circulation desk
aid in visual control.
•Main access points to commons areas should have unobstructed surveillance.
•In locker rooms, locate staff offices with windows near the main entrance.
•To the greatest extent possible, minimize hiding places and blind corners in any
area of the school.
Safer Schools by Design
An important concept of classroom design is that in an
emergency situation, classrooms must be able to be
locked down quickly.
Best Practice Recommendations:
•Design classroom doors with locksets that allow door to be locked from either
side and always opened from inside.
•Design doors with view panels or side lights to increase visibility.
•Design classroom windows to allow for quick surveillance of the campus by
staff and students during the course of their normal activities.
Safer Schools by Design
Open stairwells make it easier to keep an eye on students.
Best Practice Recommendations:
•Enclose area under interior stairways.
•Avoid enclosed exterior stairwells when possible.
•Exterior stairs, balconies, ramps and upper level corridors should have open or
see-through handrails and guardrails.
Safer Schools by Design
Certain design strategies can help mitigate safety and
security problems in toilet areas.
Best Practice Recommendations:
•Eliminate double door vestibules entrances in toilet rooms. Privacy screen
partitions rather than doors allows better acoustical surveillance while
preserving privacy.
•Consider locating sinks outside of the toilet room for better visual surveillance.
•Waterless urinals are preferable.
Safer Schools by Design
Security after the Columbine High School Attack
Background: Jeffco has 85,000 students at 148 school sites. Columbine HS
had 1,945 students at the time of the attack.
Before the attack:
•No physical security requirements other than building locks. Visitors
were asked to sign-in at school offices, but it generally wasn't enforced.
After the attack:
•A card key entry system for staff. Students wear ID tags at all times.
•Full time monitor at the main entry and the student entry.
•Banned long coats because that is what shooters wore.
•No metal detectors. Local law enforcement and the CO AG indicated
detectors may not prevent attacks.
Safer Schools by Design
Seven Years Later, the district is currently installing:
•Card readers and video cameras at HS and MS buildings.
•Classroom door hardware lockable from the inside with any teacher’s key.
•Main entry vestibules adjacent to the main office and separated by a door.
Inside vestibule doors locked when school starts. Visitors must go through
reception area to check in.
Under evaluation:
•Electronic lock at reception area with a door buzzer for entry. (District is
concerned about lack of a "welcoming" feeling that it believes schools should
•PA systems with a microphone in all classrooms that can be monitored without
a teacher having to physically activate it.
Safer Schools by Design
Non-Physical Measures Jeffco has implemented:
•A district-wide safety plan and crisis response plan.
•Regular emergency practice drills and training at schools.
•An emergency hotline number for parents.
•Area on its web site for periodic updates during a crisis.
•Increased visible security presence at schools.
•Close working relationship with law enforcement agencies.
•Programs to address student bullying and violence.
•Mediation programs and counseling for students with anger
and conflict issues.
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