Posted by Larry Brandes on 31 May, 2022 at 1:16 pm. 213 comments already!


A police officer once told me, “You can’t stop crazy.”  Unfortunately, mentally ill people permeate our society and are increasingly putting students and school staff members at risk.  The name Laurie Dann immediately comes to mind.  Laurie murdered one boy and wounded two girls at Hubbard Woods Elementary School in Winnetka, Illinois in 1957. Schools are no longer guaranteed safe havens and security protocols must must be instituted. Vigilance must always remain high.

There is no magic bullet in achieving school security.  Security is achieved in layers:  the more layers you have the more effective security becomes. Some school administrators slap Gun-Free Zone stickers on entrance doors and call it a day.  I would fire all of those lazy administrators. Someone has to be passionate about protecting kids and staff members from evil predators who roam the country searching for innocent victims.

There were 7 layers of security that I implemented at my Chicago suburban high school by 2000. That was 22 years ago but apparently, some educators today forgot the harsh lessons of yesterday gleaned from horrific school massacres in America.

1.  WE HAD A FULL-TIME ARMED POLICE LIAISON OFFICER (PLO) IN THE BUILDING.  An armed PLO is a critical layer of security for all schools.  Our school served two communities and both police departments were extremely cooperative and suggested methods of improving security at our campus.  Our PLO could be at the scene of an incident in our school within minutes.  TIME MATTERS! We provided both police departments with elaborate blueprints of our building and invited police officers to actually visit the school and familiarize themselves with the layout.  We met with the faculty and explained that in the case of an emergency, the PLO and I would immediately rush to the scene.  Help would be on the way within minutes.  Both police departments promised that their officers would immediately respond, storm our building and engage the intruder.  Apparently, at both Columbine High School and Robb Elementary School, police officers responded but botched the rescue attempt through delay, confusion, incompetence and fear.

2. WE NUMBERED ALL EXTERIOR DOORS WITH WHITE REFLECTIVE PAINT VISIBLE FROM THE ROAD. It is extremely important to direct emergency vehicles, in a timely manner, to the precise location where help is needed. One day at my high school a student collapsed in PE and stopped breathing.  He was temporarily revived by our school nurse who used a portable Automated External Defibrillator (AED).  Those devices were procured to revive anyone experiencing cardiac arrest. Paraprofessional staff members met the ambulance at the entrance of the campus and directed paramedics to the exact door where the student needed help.  The student survived.  TIME MATTERS!

3. CODE RED LOCKDOWNS. Hopefully by now, all schools have implemented Code Red Lockdowns. I initiated lock down protocols at our high school immediately after the massacre at Columbine High School.  Whenever a threat to our school was perceived, a Code Red lockdown was announced over the PA system.  All teachers immediately locked down their classrooms and moved students away from the doors.  It is very important that all classrooms have a thumb turn lock on the inside of the classroom door.  Teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School died valiantly trying to hide their students from an evil, deranged, monster.  Those amazing heroes hid vulnerable kids in closets and tried to barricade the entrances.  A thumb turn lock can secure a room within 20 seconds.  TIME MATTERS!

4. ALL EXTERIOR DOORS SHOULD REMAIN CLOSED DURING THE DAY. That sounds simple in theory, but we constantly had to berate PE teachers who propped doors open in the fieldhouse, “because it was hot.”  Robb Elementary School in Uvade, Texas was under lockdown because of shots fired in the vicinity of the school but a teacher propped open an exterior door.  An armed, deranged, psychopath accessed that door and gained entry into the school. One teacher made one careless mistake that negated an entire layer of security. In an ironic twist of fate, responding officers had to use that same exact door to gain entry to the school because all of the other exterior doors were closed and secure.

5.  PARAPROFESSIONAL STAFF MONITORED THE HALLWAYS.   Our high school employed unarmed Paraprofessional staff to monitor all hallways. Each Para-Pro was equipped with a state of the art walkie-talkie and served as the first line of defense.

6. ACTIVE CAMERA SYSTEM WAS INSTALLED. Twenty-two years ago we installed cameras in our school.  We had Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras and stationary cameras mounted strategically throughout the building.  We also installed cameras on the exterior of the building.  Our system was active. One of my Paraprofessional staff members was tasked with monitoring the cameras during the entire school day.

7.  ALL ADMINISTRATORS WALKED THE HALLWAYS DURING THE PASSING PERIODS. That sounds reasonable, but some administrators enjoyed sitting in their offices, drinking coffee and avoiding teenagers.  I encouraged everyone, including the superintendent (housed in our building) to get into the hallways when the passing bell rang.  I didn’t care if they were meeting with Pope Francis.  At the sound of the bell I expected them to get up, get out and mingle with the students and the staff. I was in the hallway once and a student said, “Hey, Dr. B, who’s that dude?  I replied, “That dude is your superintendent.”  The student replied, “Yeah, well he should get out more.”


All schools must make security Job #1!  We have approximately 140,000 schools in America and Biden gifted them with $190 billion dollars in pandemic relief.  Where O Where did that $$$ go?  Biden also recently gifted $53 billion dollars to Ukraine to protect them.  The Ukrainians may be nice people, but our tax money would have been better spent protecting our wonderful kids and our heroic teachers from deranged killers. The money from Washington flowed out in all directions and where it landed, nobody knows.

You can’t stop crazy, but you can make crazy aware that layers of school safety initiatives have been put in place and are designed to protect the innocent. Threats must be confronted in a very timely fashion, and eliminated in a very agressive manner. Students and staff members need to feel safe and administrators need to take every precaution to insure that they stay that way.


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