Springbrook responds to security concerns after recent shooting


by Michael Solomon, Editor-in-chief

In 2018 alone, there have been 18 documented school shootings in the United States. The number of mass shootings recorded as of February 14, 2018, is 30. Despite being the richest and most powerful nation in the world, America seems to be remarkably weak when it comes to dealing with the issue of gun violence. After the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many Americans have again become extremely weary of the safety of our nation’s most vulnerable institutions.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, the atmosphere around Springbrook is much different now. Students, families, and staff alike are in shock by the news from Florida, despite the unsettling number of times our country has seen similar situations before. In many classrooms the following day, concerns and conversations about school safety and security could be heard throughout the school. From just a brief observation of Springbrook’s campus and policies, it’s not hard to understand what everyone’s so worried about.

After hearing from many parents and students, including myself, Dr. Williams and the Springbrook Administration made some recent changes to tighten up security at the school.

The main entrance, located at the front of the building, is locked at 7:45 AM, when all students are expected to already be inside. After this time, visitors and late students can only enter the building by pressing a button on the front door, which alerts the front office to let them in. However, this policy may not seem as safe as it sounds. Just about anyone can enter the school this way. There are no security or officers posted by the front door so the only way someone would be denied entrance is if they looked extremely suspect.

“The school isn’t really safe… anyone can just walk in and do whatever they want,” said sophomore Brendan Collins, “They don’t even really check when you press the button, so you could be carrying anything in your bag, and they just let you in. Sometimes, the doors are even unlocked,” he added.

According to Dr. Williams, it is school policy for front office staff to ask visitors a security question through the intercom at the entrance, but apparently, they haven’t been doing so. Upon discovery of this, he is now requiring staff to ask these questions and has mandated that a security officer be posted near the front entrance at all times from now on. Dr. Williams announced this on the Wednesday morning announcements.

The good news is that Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education has recently approved a plan for renovation to the school’s front lobby. The renovations will begin this summer. It will include an addition of 6 new security cameras, as well as a new front entrance that will ensure all visitors have to go through the main office before entering the school. The re-design was initially planned to be finished before the start of this school year but Dr. Williams says that it was delayed due to funding.

Another matter being discussed at Springbrook is the lack of clarity surrounding security protocol that would be followed in cases like these. While every single teacher and faculty member is aware of emergency protocol most students don’t really know what to do in extreme situations.  This is most likely a result of the lack in drills and school-wide exercises that would better prepare students for emergencies like this. In the 2017-2018 school year, Springbrook has conducted only two fire drills, and only one lockdown/shelter-in-place drill since the last school year.

Junior Juliana Rozario also shares some concern about the absence in drills and awareness at Springbrook. “I know the basic fire drill emergency protocol but that’s it. If we were in the event of lets say a shooter, I would not know how to handle the situation because we rarely have those types of drills,” she told The Blueprint. “I think the school should do more on their part to make sure students and teachers know what to do in these serious situations, because although they’re rare, they can happen.”

Dr. Williams acknowledged this issue during our meeting and said that he plans to add more drills and focus on increasing student awareness on school protocol.

“I do agree that we can always enhance communications and review our procedures for emergency preparedness. We will have additional drills, and I do plan to work with the security team as well as the administration come up with a plan to better educate and remind our students and staff about emergency procedures,” he said.

Williams also said that he plans to have all exterior doors locked, which were once “unlocked for convenience’s sake”. This will include the doors by the main gym, the pit, and the back doors.