One year since Parkland; How has security at Southwest Florida schools changed

Reporter: Rich Kolko
Published: Updated:
Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14, 2018, after a shooter opened fire on the campus. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

One year since the Parkland school shooting, schools across Southwest Floriad have undergone extensive changes in regards to security.

Hardening Building Security

From security cameras to security guards, junior Bridgette Marrero says the change around North Fort Myers High, is noticeable.

“I think there’s a been a big improvement now after Parkland.”

Her school principal, Debbie Diggs, says immediately after the shooting, her security plans changed.

“It’s almost that sense of urgency was incredibly heightened — so it became multiple times a day doing those checks — perimeter checks of the campus,” she said.

One of those changes the school district made after Parkland included making schools single entrance and putting fencing around all campuses.

“Nearly all of our schools have perimeter fencing — 100 percent perimeter fencing,” said Rick Parfitt, Director of Safety and Security for Lee Schools. “There are still a few that don’t. And we’re working on that.”

Along with making physical changes to schools across campus, Parfitt put in other safety measures.

“Lacking was the threat assessment piece and I think that was the vital piece missing,” he explained.

There is a threat assessment team for each school, made up of a number of people, including mental health professionals, the school resource officer and other staff members. Their job is to gather information about threats or potential threats. All districts in Southwest Florida have threat assessment teams.

See Something, Say Something

“We need to start training students and staff and everyone in to reporting concerning behavior,” said Parfitt.

Making sure kids, students, parents and staff know they are all part of the solution to keeping schools safe, is important.

“We hear so many times, Parkland and Santa Fe, after that, and every one before that have all said the same thing. That they missed signs, there were indicators. there were red flags,” he said.

“Our key for everything is to train kids to report things,” said Collier County Superintendent Kamela Patton. “…and I will tell you, kids are telling us.”

The below are highlights of security measures being taken at public school in Southwest Florida.

Lee County

  • All campuses are closed and locked
  • Doors to classrooms are locked during school hours
  • Two-thirds of classroom doors already have red locks (can be locked from inside). New sales tax increase will pay for rest
  • Video entrance systems will be installed in every school by end of the year
  • School Resource Officer (SRO) on every campus, two on larger high school campuses along with trained security guards
  • Law enforcement has live, real-time access to school camera systems
  • Active shooter drills

Collier County

  • Electronic visitor/volunteer management in use at all schools with video doorbell access
  • Security cameras
  • Doors to classrooms locked during school day
  • Youth relations Deputy (YRD) at every school
  • Lockdown drills
  • Most school secured by a single point of entry
  • Backpacks or large bags are no longer allowed at sporting events
  • High school students are all required to wear ID badges on campus

Charlotte County

  • SRO’s at every school
  • High school have two School Resource Officer’s and a District Security Officer
  • Video doorbell systems
  • Cameras inside and outside every school
  • Electronic visitor/volunteer management in use at all schools with video doorbell access
  • Single entry point with ‘many ways out’ at all schools
  • Lockdown drills
  • Visitors must present a driver’s license to be run through an identification check system
  • no door handles on the outside doors of the schools
  • Agreement with Charlotte Behavioral Mental Health to provide services once a troubled child is identified

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