Edison will ask school visitors to display ID

Edison will ask school visitors to display ID

CHAMPAIGN – Visitors to Edison Middle School will now be greeted at the door and asked for identification, in the wake of a report of an intruder in the building Wednesday.

Shortly after noon Wednesday, a student reported seeing a man in the building, near a restroom, and became concerned, said Principal Joe Williams. No intruder was found.

Williams said the building was locked down immediately – all doors were locked and students were kept from moving through the building. He said sixth- and eighth-grade students were in class, and they were kept in their classrooms.

The seventh-grade students were on the playground for recess. All the physical education and seventh-grade teachers at the school were sent to the playground, and the students remained there while the building was searched. Faculty and staff who weren't supervising students were dispersed throughout the school.

Edison's school resource officer, Jonathan Westfield, was outside the building, but he arrived within minutes of being notified of the report, along with a school resource officer from another school, Williams said. Four patrol officers who were in the area also came to the school.

The school was searched, and no intruder was found. School resumed about 40 minutes after the report was made, Williams said. Police are still investigating.

Parents were notified of the report and how the school responded.

Williams is meeting today with a state police sergeant who deals with school safety, and they will walk the building together.

Williams is posting a staff member at the building's only unlocked door, to identify any visitors and give them a name tag. He said there will also be more police presence in the neighborhood surrounding the school for now.

Williams said Westfield's presence in the school gives staff and students a greater sense of security.

"When it comes to things like this, he knows every nook and cranny (of the building) as well as we do," he said.

The building also has two hall monitors. They didn't see any intruder Wednesday, Williams said.

The school district has added cameras in the hallways and at certain strategic locations in its high schools, Jefferson Middle School, Columbia Center and the Early Childhood Center. Edison was scheduled to get cameras this year, and Williams said that will happen quickly.

Last week, Assistant Superintendent Ecomet Burley told the school board the district is looking at putting cameras at the front doors of all its buildings as well. The board also discussed installing buzzer systems, so anyone entering the school would have to be buzzed in by school personnel.

The district has taken other steps to improve safety, including adding keyless entry systems, developing an emergency management plan, limited the number of entry points in buildings, and added hall monitors in the middle schools.

Williams said he will be having more discussions with his staff about security, and with students as well.

"We'll probably talk with the kids, 'If you see an adult in the building who is not a teacher and doesn't have a pass or sticker that says who they are, you need to tell us,'" he said.

He said he is pleased with how the students and staff responded Wednesday.

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aantulov wrote on October 14, 2012 at 6:10 am

External I.D.'s are not the only problem. 

Never before has data management and instant identification card making computerized machines been so effective and inexpensive. The are proven effective tools to simplify complex issues of safety and finance. Yet each middle and high school Champaign still are unable to provide cards in a timely matter rendering the entire effort ineffective. Each semester instead of week where one does not “have to have a card”, the period has been up to two months. That’s two months, face to face issues of who gets subsidized breakfast, lunch, libraries access, services in general, admittance to events, in fact officials have no way on insuring that bullies from other schools are on not their premises besides diligent guess work. And teens experience doubt and chaos in what should be a smooth interaction, damaging their self esteem and faith in those in authority.

These archaic methods may have worked well in the past when the school demographic was constant, but this community has been getting the indigent from big cities daily. As more enter, anyone who can leave the public schools does. Dedicated teachers and school officials have been operating as best the can with what they have been given.

This community has also been getting “developers” arriving on private jets building apartments to collect steady “section 8” rents. And, building skyscrapers with luxuries with DECADES long tax breaks. This is why your property taxes are going up, and services down.

Since money is the only solution to this problem, please let me point out that having school kids carry a card with pride in the picture has infinite marketing to get kids to shop in certain stores, and brand familiarity. Certainly looking at “Coca Cola” or “JC Penny” every day has an affect.

Could one of the millionaires passing thru town give us back a small portion of the tax dollars they have not paid by providing each middle and high school with a state of the art identification system? Does not one feel it a good idea to have the statement “Buy made in USA” on the back of every card used daily by the next generations?