Officials tighten security

COLUMBIANA – Visitors to the Columbiana school buildings should be prepared to identify themselves and explain why they are there before being allowed into the building, even if staff already know who they are.

Superintendent Don Mook said Friday the district is reviewing and reinforcing its already existing visitor guidelines as a result of the Wednesday incident in which an unidentified man entered the building and used the restroom without signing in, resulting in a Level 1 lockdown.

He said parents, relatives or guardians coming to the building during the day will need to properly identify themselves and be visible to the security camera before being allowed into the building, and once inside will also need to sign in, as is the regular policy.

“It isn’t anything new, we have always had them in place, and we are reinforcing what we have as policies.

What happens is we just have to get our parents to help us in complying with that,” he said.

Parents or other visitors should not be upset if they feel as though building secretaries are giving them the “third degree,” he added.

He said when a visitor rings the outdoor buzzer building secretaries ask them to identify themselves and look into the security camera.

“They are just going to have to work with us to make sure we know who they are and identify themselves clearly … we are not going to let someone with a hood up and we can’t tell who they are into the building. We have to know who they are and we will have to clearly see them,” he said.

Typically, parents, grandparents and other legal guardians visit buildings throughout the day to drop off lunches, homework or gym clothes and shoes for students, he explained.

Once inside visitors must sign in at the main office and sign out again when they leave.

“That isn’t anything new, and in fact that has been pretty carefully followed in our elementary school,” he said.

Parents and guardians were notified by the district through an all-call about the process and procedures following the Wednesday incident, he added.

“They can help us do a better job just by simply cooperating with how we do things … they are going to know we are going to request who they are and what they are here for,” he said.

The man who entered the high school building on Wednesday told a secretary through the intercom system outside that he needed to use the restroom. The secretary told him to come to the main office and sign in first, and while he did go to the office he did not sign in or out before leaving the building, breaching protocol.

Mook said the high school building is available for public walking during after-school hours only.