Denton ISD has made several changes its school safety processes for the new school year.
“We’ve had a comprehensive set of plans in place for several years, but I think with the heightened awareness during the past few months we need to share what we can more openly with our community,” said Jeff Russell, area superintendent.
The district has installed secure entry systems at all of its campuses, it has improved its emotional support system for students and it launched a campaign to improve awareness, according to a district news release.
At previous meetings, members of the Board of School Trustees discussed improvements and changes to the Denton Multi-Tiered Support System, which includes more social and emotional support for students. Counselors, teachers and staff have worked to develop a caring culture on campus in an effort to identify students who may need mental health interventions, the news release said.
The district will also widely publicize a link and 24-hour phone number from “Safe Schools” that will encourage students to self-report or share information about classmates to increase prevention and outreach to students. Every high school student in the district will be issued a lanyard and identification badge holder showing the telephone number, the news release said.
The new renovation to Guyer High School changed the entry points to the district’s largest campus, streamlining access for students through only three locations, according to the district. The new configuration also enables the district to install a secure entry system that will become standard to all campuses this year.
Elementary schools will be the first campuses to receive the new secure entry systems, which will require visitors to be visible on camera before entering the building. In an effort to further monitor visitors to the building, elementary school parents will no longer be able to walk their student to the classroom door after the first full week of school.
“It’s important for students to not only develop independence, but to learn awareness while on campus,” Russell said. “This will also move forward the time we secure all entrances without extra people in the building.”
On secondary campuses, all students will be required to wear their school identification cards daily. The ability to distinguish currently enrolled students from visitors, especially in large settings, is key, the district said.
The Board is considering the adoption of Policy CKE that allows the district to employ professionals commissioned by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement as security guards. These individuals would be in addition to the 12 school resource officers the district currently employs in partnership with six municipalities and their partnering law enforcement agencies.
“This is a dynamic topic, one we will continually review and change,” Russell said “But when it comes to safety and well-being of our students and staff, improvement is non-negotiable.”