LAFAYETTE -- The Lafayette School District is creating another layer of safety to help protect students from a repeat of last month's Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, with classroom door locks that can be locked from the inside.
Superintendent Fred Brill announced Jan. 15 that the district has decided to install 200 new locks on classroom doors to replace ones that lock from outside with a key. He estimated it would cost less than $60,000 to replace the locks at the district's four elementary schools and middle school.
The Lafayette district, which serves more than 3,200 students, is joining several others in the Bay Area in reviewing school security measures, including updating locks on classroom doors. The neighboring Orinda School District is considering switching to "Columbine" locks and implementing other safety measures as soon as a recent police review of school sites is evaluated, according to Superintendent Joe Jaconette. The Martinez School District decided this month to keep classroom doors -- which already lock from the inside -- locked during school hours and is also considering buying Columbine locks, security cameras and other safety equipment. The Los Gatos Union School District is assessing locks, gates, perimeter fencing and blinds at its five schools.
Lafayette's move is part of an overall effort that began early last year to revise emergency preparedness and student safety.
"What we wanted to do is have a mechanism so (teachers) could lock the doors from the inside of classrooms if that should become necessary," Brill said.
Changing locks is just one of a few steps the Lafayette district is taking following last month's mass shooting in Connecticut. Administrators will conduct a variation of an earthquake drill, a response to a campus intruder, in the next month to respond to a campus intruder, Brill said. The Lafayette Police Department has also filled the district's youth diversion officer position, which had been vacant following a retirement, said police Chief Eric Christensen.
"We are in contact with the schools about security plans and what kinds of different actions are going on," the chief said.
However, unlike other districts, the Lafayette district does not require staff to wear badges, although it does plan to tighten up its protocol for campus visitors, Brill said. The district also does not intend to change its open campus policy.
As for recent calls to arm teachers and principals, the superintendent questioned whether such measures would really keep children safer.
"It's obviously a very politically-charged issue. Are we going to have four armed guards manning the four corners of campus?" Brill said. "One of my primary responsibilities is to keep our children and staff safe. I also think we need to be very thoughtful about how we respond and how we allocate our very precious resources."