Written by Staff
By Amanda Casanova
On Irving Independent School District campuses, any one of 1,349 cameras is watching students, teachers and visitors.
The cameras are just one of many security measures the district uses to keep some 35,000 students safe, Pat Lamb, director of school safety and operations for the district, said at a meeting on April 16 at Houston Middle School.
In the wake of the Newtown school shooting and the explosions that rocked the Boston Marathon, parents are growing increasingly concerned about school safety.
“Do I think we need to make it like a prison? Do we need walls and bars?” Lamb said. “If that meant safety for your kids, I’d be all for it, but I don’t think that’s all necessary.”
One of the district’s last encounters with school violence happened in 1993 when a 17-year-old student at Nimitz High School was shot and killed by another student.
“Keeping your children safe while at school is our district’s top priority,” Lamb said.
Among the district’s safety practices, many of the schools have closed entrances that require visitors to channel through the main office to sign-in. All visitors are then screened through a system that checks for sexual offenders.
The district also works with the Irving Police Department who are stationed at the schools and employs some 50 security officers throughout the campuses.
Security at the district is about positively engaging visitors, training everyone to sound the alarm if necessary and teaching with the classroom doors locked, according to Lamb
“We’re not going to be afraid of everybody,” he said, “but we are going to engage you and watch you.”
In late March, more than 100 people played roles in a drill at Bowie Middle School for an active shooter drill involving a scenario in which two gunmen carried pipe bombs into the school.
“Kids cannot learn if they’re not safe,” Lamb said. “We have everything to do with education and doing things so they can engage in the classroom free of fear.”