Safety First

Administrators begin enforcing procedures strictly to keep students safe


Kara Simpson

Grabbing her pass, a student checks in at the tardy kiosk Oct. 6 in the auxiliary office. Students who arrive after classes begin must input their student numbers and grab a printed pass before heading to class. Getting the pass often requires a lengthy wait in line with other late students.

Elaina Hammes and Izak Zeller

Nationally, as cities grapple with issues such as school shootings and gun control, students are starting to feel the effects. Schools are starting to crack down on their safety policies, and the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) is no different.

Quite a few safety features are being enforced differently this year including added security at entrances and exits. New sensors were put in and they are able to detect when people prop open doors.

After arriving late on Oct. 6, senior Bella Gonzalez takes the tardy pass that she will need to present to her teacher.. After the bell rings, late students form a line in at west end of the mall as they wait to get to the tardy kiosk. “I struggle to wake up in the morning even with the loudest alarm,” Gonzalez said. “I think it helps prevent students being counted absent. A tardy isn’t as impactful on a students record than an absent.” (Claire Reed)

School Resource Officer (SRO) Officer Mark Coenen said. “After about 20 seconds if a door isn’t shut, an alarm shows up and alerts us of which door.” 

This new system allows school administration to catch students skipping, particularly during seminar. If a door is held open for too long, the SRO officers will check the cameras and investigate the situation. 

All students must enter through the main entrance doors on the east and west sides of the building. An exception to this, however, are teachers.

“If for some reason that teacher would need to prop a door, they would have to call and let us know,’’ Coenen said. “Then, they would have to stay with that door. No more propping the door and then just walking away.”

A leadership team consisting of Principal Lisa Gruman, the Associate Principals –Britt Haney, Eddie Lyday and Connie Springfield– and Athletic Director Angelo Giacalone create the procedures within a set of parameters that the district gives them.

“We’re really just trying to do a better job of keeping the building secure as much as possible,” Haney said.

Any parent or student must be buzzed in when they enter the building. This allows the school to screen their intentions, from coming to see a counselor to being a guest speaker in a classroom.

“During the school day, the doors lock,” Gruman said. “We have what’s called ‘Restricted Access.’ Any guests and students need to be buzzed in. They just are screened through our main two entrances.”

 If a student props open a door during the school day, administration would start with one day of In School Suspension (ISS). 

“It allows us to screen people coming in,” Gruman said. “We ask students to carry their ID and present it to them when they are checking in on the west end.”

These procedures didn’t come out of nowhere. According to a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 93 school shootings in the 2020-21 school year. This set a record as the highest in the history of their data collection.

“Anytime you have an incident that happens at a school, it always makes the school look at what they can do to improve their procedures,” Coenen said. “We’ve always had the rule where teachers aren’t supposed to prop doors and kids aren’t supposed to come through those exits. It hasn’t been enforced. So this year, if a teacher gets caught, there’s punishments.”

These procedures were created and are enforced with student’s safety in mind. They help keep the building secure and eliminate the possibility of potential threats.