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VISD changes security procedures, keeps parents from walking kids to class (video)

By Carolina Astrain
Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:28 a.m.
Updated Aug. 29, 2013 at 3:29 a.m.

Ivonne Perez, 26, left,  signs in with Diana Hernandez, right, at the front office in Smith Elementary School in Victoria.

Other safety precautions

While campus safety protocols vary across the district, here are some of the safety practices being used at Rowland Elementary School this year.

Car rides

All "car rider" students will remain inside the building in designated locations as they wait for parents or day care rides. Parents should patiently remain in their cars during pick-up. As cars enter the circle drive, a staff member will relay students' names via radio.

Dismissal expectations

• Students who are not picked up by a designated time will be escorted to the school's after-school daycare, and parents will be assessed a $5 per child per day fee. This is not being enforced at this time because of street construction on Leary Lane.

School visitation

• All visitors must present a driver's license or state ID and sign in at the office upon arrival. In order to keep disruptions to a minimum, the office will call for students. All exterior doors will remain locked for safety reasons. If the visitor does not have an ID, then they will be asked to leave and return with proper identification.

Source: VISD

Before he could finish walking his 6-year-old daughter to class, Jarred Brooks, 35, was told he could go no further than the front office doors.

The new security measure stunned the father and several other Rowland Elementary School parents Tuesday morning.

"This is an elementary school, not a prison," Brooks said. "I understand school safety, but when you tell parents they can't pass through the front door, they're going to think you have something to hide."

In efforts to reduce hallway congestion and maximizing classroom instruction time, the Victoria school district will no longer permit parents in the classroom area after the tardy bell rings.

"If the parent needs to go to the area, they need to go to the front office and check in," said Diane Boyett, school district spokesman. "But you have to have a reason to be there."

The change is part of the new safety protocols expected to go into affect at all Victoria school district elementary schools starting Monday, Boyett said.

All schools will require parents to check in, but some schools will not allow parents to have breakfast with their child.

Parents being able to have breakfast with their child varies across the district depending on the physical layout and pre-established protocols at the school.

For example, breakfast with students will be permitted at Smith Elementary School, which has a cafeteria that can be accessed without entering the classroom area.

But at Rowland, where the cafeteria is only accessible through classroom areas, breakfast with students will not be permitted.

Victoria school district spent $250,000 from its fund balance and Freeport Tax Exemption to pay for the installation of new safety doors, additional security cameras and identification scanners at the campuses.

Boyett said each campus' safety protocols will vary depending on each school's physical layout.

"We're restricting access for security reasons," Boyett said. "We want parents to give their children hugs and goodbyes at the front door, not in the classroom."

Campuses will now have designated "hug and kiss" stations where parents can say goodbye to their students when dropping them off in the morning.

"We have been alarmed at the number of people who have not registered as a visitor in the office and have come into the cafeteria," wrote Rowland principal Andreia Foster, in a letter sent to parents before the start of the school year. "Because we have limited staff available to monitor the number of morning visitors, this action has become necessary for the safety of your child as well as all children."

Ivonne Perez, 26, a Smith Elementary School parent, said she welcomes the noticeable change in security.

"This year is a little bit more strict, but it's better for the kids and makes things easier for the kids," Perez said in Spanish. "It's been tough on the parents, but we'll get used to it in time."

And across the district, parents will be able to eat lunch with their students or volunteer in the classroom as long as they make prior arrangements or check-in with the campus secretary upon arrival.

"Those security doors are there for your child's safety," Boyett said. "They are not intended to keep parents away from their children; it is intended to protect them."

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