Schools install security updates

Published 11:34 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Several school shootings have taken place across America in recent years, and, consequently, many parents at Suffolk Public Schools have expressed concern for their children’s safety in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year.

With the help of the newly-developed Suffolk Parents 4 School Safety organization, the school division is staying ahead in ensuring the safety of all Suffolk students.

Bethanne Bradshaw, division spokeswoman, said several updates will be in place during the upcoming school year.

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Front door access control systems and additional security cameras will be installed, and each school will have a trained security monitor, she said. The security monitors will receive two-day training provided by the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety division of the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

There are several other security projects Suffolk Public Schools would like to implement, but there are not enough funds for them. The members of Suffolk Parents 4 School Safety, a school security organization for concerned Suffolk parents, have been using the summer as an opportunity to raise funds for these projects. Jennifer Brennon, vice president of Suffolk Parents 4 School Safety, says this is the reason why the organization was founded.

“Our schools are safe,” Brennon said. “The administration has done their part to make it safe, but there are things that we can do that can facilitate it. What our organization is trying to do is get things in schools as quickly as possible.”

The most extensive project for which the organization needs funding is installing the Raptor System, a visitor screening system, throughout Suffolk schools. The system would cost around $40,000 to install in every school, and both the organization and the School Board have been working hard this summer to raise funds for the project through soliciting businesses and researching grant funding options.

A couple of other projects for which the organization has been working to raise funds include magnetic locks for classroom doors that would allow teachers to easily shut and lock their doors in emergency situations and Stop the Bleed trauma kits and teacher training that would allow staff members to be better equipped in a situation where a student is gravely injured.

These updates will allow Suffolk Public Schools’ teachers and staff to be more prepared for the possibility of security threats and will help put Suffolk parents at ease.

“I think what we’re doing is really good,” Brennon said. “I would like to get to a place where we don’t have to worry about school shooters, but this is the reality we live in. Our goal is to mitigate the damage they might do — to make it harder for them to do as much damage.”

To make a donation towards any of the security update projects at SPS, contact Brennon at, visit the Parents for Better Schools Facebook group or donate directly to Suffolk Public Schools.