Improve school safety with communication, secured access to south end of LHS

Following violence in our community, students are important partners in making our schools safe


Maya Smith

Students are tempted to prop doors open to let their peers inside.

By Jack Ritter and Perrin Goulter

Lawrence High administrators are asking students to not allow others to enter the building through locked doors.

It’s a reasonable request for our school community, which has been deeply unsettled following the shooting death of a Lawrence teen over the weekend.

However, the responsibility lies on more shoulders than those of students. Our classmates would be more compliant if administrators were more transparent in their communication and allowed for greater convenience for students facing the long hike from the south parking lot. 

Late Tuesday, Principal Jessica Bassett informed staff and families — but not students directly — of a situation that happened that school day. 

“One of our students opened an external door and let two individuals they believed to be students inside the building,” Bassett wrote in the email sent to families. “Another student saw them and alerted one of our security officers that they were not students. The security officer immediately engaged these two individuals, who left the building and the campus. The security officer reported what happened to our school resource officer, and Lawrence Police are investigating.”

While similar information was shared with students over the intercom this morning, we would have benefited from getting the same email that was sent to our parents the previous day. 

Many parents miss emails sent from school or fail to share such important details with students, but we’re old enough to handle the information. And we need it to make better decisions and understand our administrators’ concerns.

While many students know why Bassett asked them to comply, other students brushed it off as another run-of-the-mill announcement.

“I can’t believe I have to walk all the way around to get in now,” someone in my class said.

Chalk it up to blissful ignorance or laziness, but many students didn’t understand the point and gravity of Bassett’s message.

To be clear, a strong door policy is important. But communication with students on why policies must be stronger is all the more helpful.

More specifically, informing students about the previous day’s situation gives the announcement the credibility it deserves. 

Accompanying the need for greater transparency is a plan to facilitate compliance. 

Students parking in the south lot or annex lot will have a much harder time getting into school and being on time for class. 

Picture this: it’s raining outside, and a student’s car has trouble in the rain. It’s 8:19 when they arrive at school. The entire north lot is full, so they park in the south lot. Then they’ll walk all the way up Louisiana Street and into school. 

Sure, it works, but LHS isn’t operating at peak efficiency here.

One of LHS’ security guards could be stationed on the south end of the 300-hallway, which runs in the middle of the entire building. Stationing one or two guards on the south end of the building could help dozens of students who are often late. That would eliminate the temptation for students to hold doors open. 

Students and staff are on the same page when it comes to needing our school to be a safe environment for all. A few small changes will ensure we see eye-to-eye on how to make that environment a reality.