DOTHAN, Ala. (WSFA) - Dothan City Schools has upgraded its safety measures for the 2019 school year. Friday, school officials held a media tour to showcase upgrades to the model facility - Dothan City Schools Early Education Center.
Safety upgrades start before teachers and parents even enter the building. All Dothan City Schools have a new intercom buzz system where staff inside are able to communicate with visitors outside before allowing them to enter the building.
Teachers also have key fobs that can be scanned against a security portal to unlock the doors.
“It’s not that we don’t trust anyone. It’s about the safety and security of our students and staff,” said Scott Faulk, Director of Safety, Security, and Attendance for Dothan City Schools.
The school system has roughly 18 campuses, over 9,000 students, and close to 1,000 employees.
But even once a visitor gets into the school facility, they will still need clearance to get into the main building. At the Early Education Center, Dothan Preparatory, and Dothan High School a secure waiting area was built where school officials will have to buzz the visitor in to enter the main building.
“It’s another barrier just in case our main barrier doesn’t work,” said Faulk.
Faulk says the design includes bulletproof glass on the entrance door and windows - a safety measure in the event of an active shooter. He also says the doors installed include a magnetized lock. The doors are designed to make it more difficult for someone to break in.
The safety upgrades come after Dothan Police conducted assessments on all schools within Dothan City Schools last year. Law enforcement created a list of suggestions for schools to improve safety and security.
“Told us what needed to be changed and what safety comes into play so we appreciate working with the Dothan Police Department for what changes need to be made,” said Faulk.
He says the secure entrance is something the school system hopes to implement at all city schools by next school year. They started with schools that had the easiest design to adapt or schools with the largest population.
Once parents enter the school, they are required to have their ID scanned through the Raptor system and get a name badge. The Raptor system is linked to the national sex offender registry and alerts school officials if a person is a sex offender.
The school system has also added new, upgraded security cameras throughout all Dothan City Schools. Each school also has at least one School Resource Officer or School Protection Officer patrolling the grounds.
“Principals can see video on their desktop and at the central office we have the capabilities to log in to see all the cameras at all the schools,” said Faulk.
He says the next step would be adding cameras in classrooms.
The safety measures reach beyond the school buildings. The school system has also increased safety measures at extracurricular activities.
The system partnered with Dothan Police to assist in checking bags at school games. For the next home games, DSI Security Services will have personnel to wand attendees entering the games. The school system is also looking at getting portable metal detectors.
“I believe every Dothan City School Student has a right to come to school and feel safe and get an education,” said Faulk, “I don’t think a child should have to worry about an on-site shooter. Anything that concerns that could take away from the learning environment.”
Faulk says the system is looking into more grant funding to continue to build upon the safety measures in place now.