San Antonio area school districts: Security is our priority

Districts outline school security procedures in place

SAN ANTONIO – News of the deadly school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut is prompting some San Antonio area school districts to review their own security measures at campuses across the city.

KSAT 12 News reached out to several districts within Bexar County, to gauge security procedures and policies currently in place.

"We certainly are praying for the families in Connecticut," said Pascual Gonzalez, spokesman for the Northside Independent School District. "It's heartbreaking to hear this news. Our priority is to keep children safe. These horrible events cause us to pause and look at our own situation and how we can make our schools more secure," Gonzalez said.

In a later statement, emailed to KSAT 12 News, the district writes, "While there is no indication that this is anything but an isolated incident in a state far from Texas, Northside ISD is very sensitive to concerns and questions from parents about our own crisis procedures."

NISD schools practice lockdowns and have crisis plans in place. The School Messenger system alerts parents to alerts sent from individual schools. The district has a 24-hour tip line, which people can use to report any information about a real or perceived threat to students' safety. That number is 210-397-SAFE. Northside ISD Police follow up on all leads.

Leslie Price, spokeswoman with the San Antonio Independent School District also outlined that district's crisis management plan.

She told KSAT 12 News the district regularly conducts training for schools and staff and review policies and procedures to determine if changes need to be made to strengthen them. "We also began further increasing security at our campuses last year, when we began installing key-card systems that require all visitors to be buzzed into the building during the school day," Price said. The district released a statement by Interim Superintendent Sylvester Perez in response to the shooting in Connecticut.

At North East Independent School District, Superintendent Brian Gottardy released a statement to the community echoing the sadness and shock in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. In his statement, he writes, "this is a stark reminder of the importance of our safety procedures and our check-in and screening processes for all visitors to campuses."

In response to KSAT 12's inquiry, Judson ISD Spokesman Steve Linscomb wrote this response, "Judson ISD reviews its crisis procedures every year and makes changes as technology or vulterabilities change and arise."

He further outlined the general procedures at JISD's schools:

  • We routinely ask for ID to complete a quick background check on all visitors to campus
  • All visitors must enter through the same point.
  • There is limited access to the classroom areas. 
  • All doors are locked all day everyday with the exception of the front door.
  • Signs are on every door alerting adults to enter through the front of the building.
  • Signs are placed on the inside of doors telling students to not open the doors for anyone
  • Students are taught to not open doors for adults and they are taught to not enter a bathroom where there is an adult.  They are to wait until the adult leaves.
  • In emergency situations, all classroom pod areas can be locked down with the push of one button in the principal's office.
  • Lockdown drills are practiced so students and staff can hide in place
  • Fire drills and tornado drills are routinely practiced
  • Emergency procedures meetings are held periodically throughout the year
  • Each class has an emergency packet with directions on how to respond to each situation

Other school districts such as Alamo Heights ISD implemented a reverse call to parents. Superintendent Kevin Brown outlined new security improvements and reassured parents that efforts have been made to make sure staff and teachers are prepared to act, in the event of an emergency, to make sure children are safe during a crisis.