Video Intercoms Help Protect Arizona School Entrances

AmeriSchools install mag lock systems to increase security on their four campuses.

The task of keeping a school campus secure begins at the front door.

A good example of proactive front door security in schools is provided by the privately owned AmeriSchools, a system of the Arizona charter schools that operates four campuses, one in Phoenix and Tucson, and two in Yuma. AmeriSchools Academy Camelback is located on a busy Phoenix street. It also has a public bus stop adjacent to the school parking lot in front of the campus.

Related Article: 7 Lessons Learned from Sandy Hook

Vickie Ireland, AmeriSchool’s administrative assistant/registrar, said that people would enter the school for no reason.

“We often had people just walking into our office having no business here,” she says.

Ireland says there had been no serious problems with the visitors and the 180 students were always safe. But the 2012 events at Sandy Hook Elementary School concerned the administrators. They wanted to keep the front door locked with the exception of arrival and dismissal times for students. That would require office staff to unlock the door each time an approved visitor – parents, vendors, delivery personnel – knocked on the glass entry.

The answer for this facility was a mag lock on the door that could be opened remotely from a convenient wall-mounted switch, along with the installation of a video intercom at the entrance. The unit allows the office staff to see the visitor on an office monitor and have a two-way conversation before opening the door.

“Now I keep the door locked from 30 minutes after classes start to 30 minutes before the end of the school day,” Ireland says. “People are still trying to get in, but now they can’t. Some of them even argue with me, but after talking with them, I can tell if they have a good reason to be here. If they don’t leave, I threaten to call the police.”

She said parents have told her they are happy to have the video intercom in place, even if the new process may delay them for a few seconds as they arrive for a teacher meeting or to pick up their child.

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