Leander ISD checks all school visitors against sex offender registry

A secure entryway at a Leander ISD school_354342

LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Three are in the hospital following a school shooting in South Carolina, and KXAN wanted to know what changes local districts have made to help keep your children safe.

Leander ISD has a completed safety audit each year after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.

They looked at all aspects of safety, including what areas of campuses could be most vulnerable if a dangerous person showed up.

Security changes are still happening because of that audit. In fact, this new school year, 15 elementary school campuses now have a single secure entry point for visitors to go through.

“You just have to trust the school districts to make sure they’re doing whatever they can to protect those kids, and you’re just putting your trust into those people,” Taria Olive, a former first grade teacher says.

Olive moved to Leander from Houston, looking to raise a family. School safety is top of mind, because Olive was a teacher when the Sandy Hook school shooting happened. As an educator, it put her on edge then and with the latest South Carolina shooting, she looks to her toddler’s future, hoping she’ll have peace of mind when the day comes for her to walk into a classroom.

“I completely would feel a lot of comfort knowing she was protected with the utmost things, everything that they could do to protect her,” Olive says.

Leander district officials assure they’re committed to safety of students present and future. This year, any visitor must check in with the receptionist at the secure entry point, show their ID, which will then be checked against a list of national registry of sex offenders. If the visitor’s name shows up on the registry, they don’t get in.

“Even as it might be difficult for parents or grandparents to come in the school, and they might have to take a while to be able to actually get in, but if it wasn’t somebody who wasn’t supposed to be in the school, how would you feel then?” Olive said.

There are a few remaining elementary schools that still need construction. The district projects those will be completed by the end of next summer.

Security measures required by the state

Texas actually requires school districts to perform a safety audit of every campus every three years. Most districts use this check list from the Texas School Safety Center.

Questions include: Is the staff required to wear photo badges at all times? And are there working security cameras inside and outside the school? Do all windows have a way to be covered in the event of a lockdown?

Any problems exposed by the audit are confidential under state law, but key findings are still collected. The latest report shows most small schools admit staff aren’t well trained for emergencies, but most large schools say their workers are extremely well trained in emergency management.

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