School reviews safety issues

Construction to address safety issues of building


Aidin Manning

Safety focus — With an open campus, safety issues remain a concern at LHS.

By Macy Landes, Editor

Lawrence High has joined the ranks of groups voicing security concerns following the fatal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Administrators are looking for short-term solutions to the various issues with the building.

An open campus is one of the issues staff is grappling with. Those issues will be fully remedied in future construction. Around the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Lawrence High’s portion of bond construction should be finished, and the school will have a closed campus.

“One of the primary talking points, when it was up for a popular vote, was safety and security of the campus,” assistant principal Mike Norris said. “But of course, it takes time to do that…and it was kind of that, ‘What do we do in between?’ Well, we’re already doing something in between. It’s not like something changed, it’s as insecure as it always was, I guess, but a major point of the bond construction is to secure those entrances.”

Until then, administrators have to find a balance between keeping students safe on campus and providing reasonable routes between the main building, annex and west gym.

“What we’re wrestling with right now and trying to figure out is how do we deal with or handle those issues now, in the interim, or the short term,” Norris said.

The problem with keeping students safe is not the dated building — it’s that there are three of them.

“The difference between us and Free State is that they occupy a single footprint,” Norris said.

School Resource Officers are supposed to help during the span of these transition years. Since 1995, School Resource Officers have been at Lawrence High to meet the requirements of what SRO James Miller describes as a triad concept.

“We counsel students if they need our assistance with stuff,” he said. “We teach, we give presentations, and then, obviously, the third one is law enforcement.”

In the event of an intruder or disturbance, SROs have the means to protect students and staff.

“We, obviously, are armed because we’re law enforcement,” Miller said. “And we’re the first line of defense if something was to go wrong here in the school.”

Student safety, SRO Gwyn Fogarty said, is the number one concern of all staff members.

“After any event, whether it’s an automobile accident or anything, it’s to be here and have that door open for anybody to come and talk to us,” she said. “And I think that’s the same for admins, teachers [and] counselors.”