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Posted on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

School shootings nationwide prompt pursuit of new locked door policy in Ann Arbor

By Amy Biolchini

Shootings at school buildings nationwide—the most recent attempt this week near Atlanta — have thrust the safety and security of students in Ann Arbor Public Schools to the front of the district’s agenda.

During daytime hours when school is in session, exterior building doors on schools are left open. The district does have a policy that visitors must check in to the main office to obtain a pass, but it’s rarely followed, said Board of Education Trustee Andy Thomas.


One of the entrances to Huron High School in Ann Arbor. Under a new policy Ann Arbor Public Schools is pursuing, these doors would be locked during school hours to increase school security.

Daniel Brenner I

“The public is used to relatively unrestricted access,” Thomas said. “Parents just whiz in and out of the school to get a pass.”

The entrances to some schools — like Burns Park Elementary — is configured so that it’s relatively easy for a visitor to bypass the main office without being noticed, Thomas said.

This year, the district is planning to implement a new policy: Locking all exterior doors on school buildings during daytime hours. The implementation date has yet to be determined.

The district is considering several methods that would give certain individuals access to the building during school hours:

  • Using a keypad system in which parents and other qualified individuals get a code that will allow them access to a main door
  • Using a video surveillance and intercom buzzer system that only allows a staff member inside the building to admit someone in from the outside

The estimated cost to implement the new security measures is $190,000, which the district has allocated in its 2013-14 property upkeep budget funded by its sinking fund millage. The district also wants to replace all of its schools' exterior doors in the next five years should the sinking fund millage be renewed.

“The intent is to place as many barriers as possible between someone who wants to enter the school for purposes other … than legitimate educational purposes,” Thomas said.

Following the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre stated an armed guard should be placed in every school as a preventive measure.

AAPS officials responded that an armed guard at each school would not be financially feasible, but that they were reviewing their safety procedures.

Thomas presented the locked door policy change to the Board of Education Wednesday night in a report from the Performance Committee on which he sits.

The committee had met Wednesday morning and felt that such a significant change in policy should be brought before the entire board for discussion and review, Thomas said.

Acknowledging that the policy will change the way the community interacts with Ann Arbor schools, Thomas said engaging the public in the process should be a priority for the school board this fall.

“It’s very important to explain to the community that we’re not trying to create an armed camp, but to protect students,” Thomas said.

School board President Deb Mexicotte said the district’s safety and security report would be placed on a future board meeting agenda for review.

Contracts have not yet been issued for the security upgrades, as the district still must decide the kind of entry access mechanism it will use.

Interim Superintendent David Comsa said that other options in addition to using a keypad or intercom buzzer to enter a building are under consideration.

“Safety and security is paramount so we won’t work with any delay,” Comsa said.

In the past, a school would automatically go into lockdown if there was a perceived threat: Students would be kept in classrooms away from doors and windows. A nationwide evaluation of the policy has now turned to evacuation as a better solution in some circumstances than a lockdown, Thomas said.

AAPS staff are undergoing new training Friday that takes a different approach to handling an active gunman in schools. The ALICE system—Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate—will be in use in AAPS buildings this year.

Amy Biolchini is the K-12 education reporter for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Tue, Aug 27, 2013 : 5:03 a.m.

I don't know about the other schools but I do know Pioneer keeps most its doors locked. The doors by the office are always open.


Mon, Aug 26, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

Locking the doors is fine but there are numerous times when large numbers of students are together that can't be avoided, such as getting on/off buses, recess, field trips, assemblies, etc. Anyone who really wants to do damage can do it. Let's get over this obsession with making our schools inpenetrable fortresses and start being reasonable. Shooters at Sandy Hook and Columbine had no trouble with door locks or an on-site, armed deputy, respectively.

Laurie Barrett

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

What a perfect solution!


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:32 a.m.

Every second counts. That's why people lock the doors of their cars, their homes, and why the doors of their children's schools should be locked. Slowing a criminal allows steps to be taken - a 911 phone call, internal classroom lockdown or escape, etc.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

I think these school shootings and pedestrian crossing deaths are a conspiracy aimed at forcing people to stay home in locked fortresses, buying education from the Koch brothers through


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

Wow, the moderators are sure going nuts on this one... keep up the great censorship work! 5...4....3...


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

I'm a former AAPS teacher who now is teaching in another state. When I taught in AA, I was surprised at all of the doors being unlocked and the number of community members that we had who would just come into the school and wander around. When I would spot someone without a visitor sticker, the responses that I got ranged from, "Who the h*ll are you to ask me what I'm doing here?" "None of your business if I need help or not" and "f*ck off!" My building administrator finally told us to just stop asking people because community members were getting upset and complaining. I'm now in another metropolitan area and am amazed at the differences in school security. All doors are locked, no discussion, and the community would not expect it any other way. Doors are not propped open and staff make sweeps of the buildings several times during the day. Staff have badges to get into the building and they must wear their ID's at all times. During the school day, you must be buzzed into the building and the only access brings you directly into the office. If you are going past the office for anything during the school day, you are required to have a background check done (most schools have a computer system that scans their drivers license in about 30 seconds). This computer system also will note if a parent is not allowed access to a child due to a court order, or other similar situations. As staff, we go through extensive training each year on how to handle many different crisis situations ranging from a shooter in the building to preparing for a nuclear meltdown (my particular school district is in range of a nuclear power plant). We are trained not only in how to spot someone and the proper response, but also how to protect the students in these crisis situations. Students don't bat an eye at the security levels and parents, and community members, expect it.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

The state of "access control security" is far advanced over what most readers are thinking about. Fire codes can be updated and improved - therefore the "opinion" of the Fire Marshal can also be updated and improved . (as opposed to just accepting the first "no" that comes up and walking away from the subject) Notice that everyone seems to prefer the political talking points (pro and anti-gun) to the actual fact-finding and thinking-through that's required if we're to prevent more school shootings. Everyone loses interest and drifts off to find the next controversial topic. Or, they take up the now "traditional" political debates and forget all about realistic security. I think that's the underlying reason that school shootings have been so easy for the perpetrators. The Columbine school shooting occurred on April 20, 1999 - 14 years ago. The Sandy Hook Shooting occurred on Dec. 14, 2012 - over 8 months ago. Between those dates, there've been other monumentally tragic school shootings. Doesn't it seem strange the these GO ON while people waste all their time arguing over what are basically irrelevant political matters?? That AAPS officials are seriously addressing the threat of school shootings should be cause for celebration. I believe we owe it to all the children and the teachers in our community to focus on the available information about school shootings and how to prevent them, rather than betraying these same kids and teachers by doggedly pursuing political agendas - as President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have been doing EVERY TIME there's a tragedy of this kind. Protecting our kids and our teachers requires cooperation and involvement on the part of police, fire and mental health experts - plus the due diligence of OURSELVES. Time isn't "wasting" - it's already WASTED. Let's break with precedence and INFORM OURSELVES before offering off-base opinions.

Haran Rashes

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

Seeing several comments below about the fire marshals, I would like to add that when I was President of a non-profit in town that houses a school, we looked into putting in some locked interior doors for security purposes. There are very strict laws and regulations in Michigan about such. For example on interior doors, you have to have a crash bar and have the doors open towards the nearest building exit. This could cause problems in some buildings depending on where the office is located in relation to the exit. I think (but am not certain) that is this also one reason why, though most of the older schools are equipped with internal gates to block off certain hallways in the evening, they are rarely if ever used. In addition every exterior entrance way should have at least one door with a crash bar. So even if locked from the outside, anyone can exit through that door. In some cases, alarms are placed on the doors, so if opened someone will notice.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

"Every one of these rules has tombstones behind it." Fire and safety regulations get written after people die.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

Very good points. I will add only that "very strict" laws and regulations have been changed in the past when they conflicted with other priorities. Fire Marshals enforce the laws: but they do not make law. They are deciding only on the basis of what exists. Change the laws and they will change their decision making. The U.S. fire laws were long in coming but they arrived to deal with the threat of fire alone. They've been nearly 100% successful but now there's a new threat phenomenon. As it stands today: the Ann Arbor School District policies regarding infrastructure are an open invitation to potential school shooters. Best wishes.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

You can lock all of the doors you want. If someone wants in there are LOTS of open windows, or ones you can easily break through to gain access to most ground floor classrooms. Even classroom doors that are locked have windows! Sure this might slow down an intruder, but will not stop one that is determined.

David Cahill

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Would students and teachers still be able to get out of these "locked doors" immediately in case of fire? Has anyone asked the Fire Marshal's opinion on this plan?

Haran Rashes

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

As I commented above, based on fire codes, almost every exterior access point should have at least one door with a crash bar. So even if locked from the outside, anyone can exit through that door. In some cases, alarms are placed on the doors, so if opened someone will notice.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Reasonable question. The state of "access control" is far advanced over what most readers are thinking about. Fire codes can be updated and improved - therefore the "opinion" of the Fire Marshal can also be updated and improved . (as opposed to just accepting the first "no" that comes up and walking away from the subject) Notice that everyone seems to prefer the political talking points (pro and anti-gun) to the actual fact-finding and thinking through that's required if we're to prevent more school shootings. Everyone loses interest and drifts off to find the next controversial topic. Or, they take up the now "traditional" political debates and forget all about realistic security. I think that's the underlying reason that school shootings have been so easy for the perpetrators. The Columbine school shooting occurred on April 20, 1999 - 14 years ago. The Sandy Hook Shooting occurred on Dec. 14, 2012 - over 8 months ago. Between those dates, there've been other monumentally tragic school shootings. Doesn't it seem strange the these GO ON while people waste all their time arguing over what are basically irrelevant political matters??

Eduard Copely

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

A locked door will definitely stop an AR-15. Good thinking.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Yep, sure did in SH.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy / gal with a gun. Locking doors when someone brings a rifle or shotgun and can just shoot out the windows is a feel good gesture only. Remember, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 3:31 a.m.

Every second counts. That's why people lock the doors of their cars, their homes, and why the doors of their children's schools should be locked. Slowing a criminal allows steps to be taken - a 911 phone call, internal classroom lockdown or escape, etc.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

Jake C, She used her "word gun."

Jake C

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

Oh yes, only a good person with a gun can stop a bad person with a gun. Can you tell me what gun Antoinette Tuff used this week when an armed gunman entered her school in Atlanta?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Seems to me that Antoinette Tuff did a pretty good job without a gun -


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

I'm as much a gun rights advocate as anyone but I think it should be emphasized that defense with a gun is a last resort measure. There's a LOT of other security steps that should have been taken after earlier school shootings. We have an important edge: a lot of research has been done and plans other than "carry a gun" have been evaluated and put forth. It's just that no one, including Obama, has paid any attention to that. At least AAPS is looking into appropriate and practical measures.

Life is good in Ann Arbor

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

Whatever they do, each school needs to communicate to parents who do have the time and desire to volunteer during the day and after school hours how they are supposed to get in. It is very frustrating to be standing outside trying to get to a volunteer position or appointment with no communication from inside. So many people will resort to banging on the doors which is disruptive to everyone around. I hope they make up their minds and put something in place before school starts.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

I believe that Adam Lanza shot his way through a locked door at Sandy Hook Elementary school. Do we have other suggestions?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

As I explain in my post: Lanza shot out the WINDOW in the door so that he could reach inside to unlock the door. Funny that no one notices that windows with built in alarm sensors are common even in small businesses. If police had received that kind of alarm when Lanza broke the window, they might of at least had a patrolling officer close enough to deal with Lanza. Instead, he went about his killing unimpeded and finally shot himself when police did arrive. Oh, and my understanding is that doors in schools must have windows -building codes mandate such features. But just one incident isn't proper basis for establishing "universal" safety measures. Fortunately, the subject of school shooters and school shootings has been comprehensibly covered by several authoritative sources. It just that : no one's paying any attention to that, they prefer "debating" and calling for much more difficult measures , like gun control. That's exactly what Obama did after the Connecticut shooting, he never even bothered to ask or use his almost unlimited investigative powers and resources. Funny, eh.

Eduard Copely

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

We could line up law makers in front of the doors; this would give students a few more seconds to escape.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

It's always been about valid cost-benefit analysis. There's always been the faction which says "too much trouble, too costly" but then goes on to campaign for disarming 100 million gun owners of their 300 million guns whenever there's a school shooting (a rare event in a nation of over 300 million people). My daughter is an elementary school teacher so I can assure everyone that I take this subject seriously. Properly designed school doors can help and the ALICE system is at the very least a good first step in protecting our kids and our teachers. Sandy Hook El. had a "security door" in place when Lanza arrived that morning. But like all school doors, this one had a (built to code) unprotected window which Lanza shot out so he could reach inside to unlock the door. OLD technology provides windows which are designed to trigger alarms (when broken) which would alert both office staff and the police. This seemingly insignificant oversight contributed to Adam Lanza's "success." The place to start is with an analysis of school shooters. Fortunately, such studies have been done and the precursor signs have been identified and even dealt with in some school systems. There have been three books written on that topic and they also cover the several ways to 'counter' both potential and actual schools shooters. Last February, school security was covered by 1-hour programs from the Frontline documentary series and the NOVA science series. So the real information is out there (and has been, for years). I just hope that Ms. Mexicotte, Mr. Comsa and their able colleagues are aware of and making rational use of it. I also hope we'll be seeing a more thorough explanation of what the ALICE security system is about.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

What does the fire marshal have to say about locking doors on a building that is occupied?

Haran Rashes

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

Based on fire codes, almost every exterior entrance way should have at least one door with a crash bar. So even if locked from the outside, anyone can exit through that door. In some cases, alarms are placed on the doors, so if opened someone will notice.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

Fire codes, like all such regulations, are meant to counter specific threats. And they are modified from time to time to deal with contradictions which naturally arise when trying to deal with possible future events. Let's hope that AAPS is taking this into account.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

While I whole heartedly agree with making schools safe, I am rather suspect at the idea they want to make these safety improvements pending the millage passes.

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

The $190,000 in the sinking fund millage allocated for this change in the locked door policy comes from the 2013-14 budget—the last year of the millage before it expires in 2014. The district is seeking a renewal of the millage for use in 2015.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:24 a.m.

Locked doors and locked windows sound like an ideal plan, but with no A/C in many buildings, it is not realistic. Those rooms are 90 degrees and hotter on many days, and that is with doors and windows open, and fans going. What to do at Huron, when you have 1600 kids crossing under the arch to get to classes, lunch, etc. There is no way that the second floor hallway is large enough to accommodate all that traffic between classes. Maybe it's time to 'enclose' the arch, so the students at Huron will finally have a place to congregate, pass safely between the 2 buildings, and not freeze during the winter.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

And I work at a building with windows that do not open. We can't have our outside doors open to get some air, can't have a cross breeze by having the inside door open. So, we supply fans, and then receive notes on our desks when the district sends through their energy savings people to evaluate how we are hindering energy saving initiatives!


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

A good deal of measures that can stop violence from outside parties in schools just seems like common sense. Lock door, lock windows, know, the same things you do in your own homes (or hopefully do). And teachers should be trained mutliple times a year on what to do in the case of any form of emergency, from a fire to a nutter trying to shoot up the place. Businesses go through this, malls go through it, why shouldn't schools as well. And maybe we should divert a little of money from the salaries of our admins to get some security in schools? I think the 3 superintendents in Ypsi and in Ann Arbor could spare some cash to get some people in there as protection. We don't live in the 50's anymore. It's time to stop acting like it.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:10 a.m.

There is one part-time superintendent in Ypsilanti, and one full-time assistant.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:02 a.m.

How can children learn in a classroom that is stifling hot and has no circulation with the doors and windows locked?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

Closing all the windows when it's 80+ degrees outside does not make for a productive academic environment.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

I am incredulous that the AAPS doesn't already lock all their doors all the time. Can we get a comparison of what other schools in the area do? It seems every district I can think of has a locked door policy. You put a person or video intercom at the front door and allow access as each person rings the doorbell. This is for overall security, not just gunment. You can help prevent access by students skipping class, drug dealers, the homeless, out of district kids looking to cause mischief, fleeing criminals looking for a place to hide, estranged parents, pedophiles, etc etc. Sure you may have people prop doors and try to defeat the system, but it sure beats the current policy of DOING NOTHING. (Many districts have parents who volunteer to walk the halls, looking for open doors, making sure kids are in class and so on). Ann Arbor needs to stop pretending like they are always on the cutting edge and the first ones to address a problem. Districts around the country have been implementing locked doors policies for years now. Maybe AAPS could just look at works elsewhere and implement that cheaply.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:24 a.m.

@Trying: not to mention the fact of who screens these parents? Many buildings' biggest threats are hothead parents and non-custodial parents who try to check their children out without the ex-spouse knowing.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3 a.m.

And in all the years of all the schools with unlocked doors, how many tragedies have there been? I think we need to be careful of knee-jerk reactions in response to (admittedly heartbreaking) nationally-televised tragedies. It's kind of like coastal cities putting all their safety resources into preventing shark attacks.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

Which districts, in particular, have parent volunteers available for the entire school day to "walk the halls, looking for open doors, etc?" Can you name several of them, since there are so "many?" We should be so lucky in AA to have so many non-working parents who have entire days to spend at school, all day, every day. With budget cuts, who will pay to "put a person or video intercom at the front door and allow access?"


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

My sons pre school for one. I cannot get to the area near him without a scan card or code. The other doors are locked.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

The incoming ALICE system is, of course, tackling the problem of gun violence from the wrong end -- once the shooter is already mentally ill, or angry, or dangerous, and armed. The sensible thing to do would be... real actual gun control laws.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

Oh you mean like gun free zones? Hows that working for ya?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

Having locked doors doesn't work. I work at a school that is "locked". I can locate two doors that are not lock during the day. Parents, students and staff prop doors open so they don't have to use their passcode or badge to get into the building. The main door is always unlocked during the day, with or without students their. I have addressed these concerns on a regular basis with no results. I don't know what the answer is.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

beardown, just so you know I do shut the doors and remind people as I see them to not prop the doors open, I have enen printed signs and posted them on the doors. I have told the administrator on a regular basis about these issues. They don't know what to do either. I wasn't bragging about it just letting people know that even locked it won't stay locked unless everyone keeps it locked.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:13 a.m.

Then you need to notify your administrators, not brag about it on a newspaper comment section. Or maybe close those doors that are propped instead of just looking the other way? Rules are only as good as the people who are there to enforce them. If teachers or admins or staff look the other way at violations, then fire them and replace them with people who will. This includes you.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

Perfect acronym "ALICE" for this community. Down the rabbit hole we go again.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

Last year, teachers were told to keep all doors locked and windows closed during the day. When May came and the weather turned hot, classroom temperatures were in the 90s and doors and windows were opened. People sitting in air conditioned offices while making rules sometimes don't realize what real classroom conditions are.

J. A. Pieper

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

As Balas sits with their air conditioning on in total comfort! I know they also have locked doors, but there are times i wish that they had to abide by the same cooling/heating rules that the district classrooms have to live with!

Katherine Griswold

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

Amy - Could you get more information on why the district wants to replace all of its schools' exterior doors in the next five years should the sinking fund millage be renewed? Is it related to improved security?

Amy Biolchini

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

The replacement of exterior doors is both for security improvements and aesthetic reasons, per the district's comments at the Wednesday meeting.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:53 p.m.

@thinker and Haran Rashes: Yes, the main entrance from the pool parking lot at Mack which opens into a hallway that either goes to the pool/gym or the other way toward the main part of the building can be secured by making anyone wanting to get past the double doors into the main building either needing to be buzzed in, let in or would need a key code. This would minimally impact students/staff who were wanting to return from the gym or pool back into the building while not impacting at all the general public who want quick access to the pool (once they check in at the pool office which everyone must do, anyway).


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

As of the last part of the school year, the doors between the Mack pool lobby and the school are already locked at all times other than short periods around morning arrival and afternoon dismissal. In fact, all but the main entrance doors were locked. Kids in the gym or pool are out of luck but, realistically, so is anyone if an armed madman comes around. As seen in Sandy Hook tragedy, the locks won't stop bullets.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

@dogpaddle-actually there often isn't someone sitting in the pool office to check one in, and you go right in or pay or show pass.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

This keypad, intercom, and video system is what they have at Go Like the Wind Montessori. All parents and kids have their own door code. It works very well.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

Giving parents numerical codes would be about as effective as leaving the doors unlocked. Worst case scenario: most parents will share their code with their kids, making the system useless. Worst case: a bad guy finds out a code and gets in. If a school has 1500 students and each has 2 parent codes assigned, andyou add in staff, you get to the point where you could easily GUESS a code if you tried for a few minutes.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

And how many individual door codes would they all have to remember?

Chester Drawers

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:29 p.m.

Not only that, but how many students and parents do you have compared to Pioneer, Huron and Skyline?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

What is tuition cost at GLTW?

Dog Guy

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

The ALICE system fails on the fourth step if there isn't enough counter space for everyone to climb up on.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

I don't see how this is a deterrent for a guy with a gun unless we change all of the glass too. Evil is hard to stop when it is hellbent on destruction..............armed teachers at least give everyone a fighting chance while the police are on the way. Having to live in a society where everything is on lockdown doesn't make me feel safer.

Stan Hyne

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

How many schools are there in the United S.tates ? How many doors are there in all the schools ? How many doors have been entered by evil gunmen? Buying lottery tickets with the money has better odds.

Jake C

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

Wrong, Ricebrnr, most people are truly interested in comprehensive solutions that will realistically improve safety and security at our schools. We want ideas that will actually work, and not wastes of money that make us feel safer but not actually do anything to help. What they're not interested in is the broken record that is the NRA, whose solution to every problem is simply "More Guns!"


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:41 a.m.

They and thousands of armed citizens have volunteered. Seems that no one is interested in anything but villifying gun owners and the NRA though.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

I agree just knowing someone is armed is a deterrent. Eliminate gun free zones! They OBVIOUSLY are not working.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:55 p.m.

Someone inform Trustee Thomas that Huron High used the locked door policy this past year during school hours. They are also currently using card readers to gain entrance to the building. Unfortunately, the daytime visitor door they want to monitor is under the arch where no staff workers are present. Did anyone ever ask the staff what doors would be best to monitor as they are the ones who have to get up and open the door. As was mentioned already the arch doors carry a lot of student traffic passing from side of the school to the other during the day. How will that route be monitored during school hours?

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

It's still an arch. It's still THE arch!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

Since they took the road out, many years ago, it isn't exactly an 'arch' anymore. The easy solution would be to build new walls to make that area a hallway, like the hall currently above the arch, and just put doors on the side of the new hallway that would face Huron Parkway, and the side that would face the playing fields. Voila - controlled access. Plus, kids not getting wet / frozen when going back and forth to classes, lunch, etc.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

I have two kids in Ann Arbor schools (elementary and middle) and frankly, I can't believe that the schools don't already lock all but the main door during school hours. Yes, I understand that there are some unique situations (Huron's "arch," the Mack pool) but really, this is a free, easy way to provide our kids with an extra layer of protection. This should have been put into place years ago - say, after the shootings at Columbine.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

SOME AAPS schools already lock all but the main doors. Check with the principal if your schools are not locked- ask why.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

Is it a deterrent, yes, but you can just break a window either in the door, a classroom or the lobby to to gain access if you want to get in and are determined.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:16 a.m.

Beardown, where will the money come from for that when we are currently cutting the budget left and right?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:17 a.m.

True. And I am sure they can also tunnel in or possible come in through the air ducts, John McLaine style. What's your point? Maybe we should also push to have the windows reinforced as well? Works for me. Ann Arbor speaks highly of it's schools, its about time they actually pay to secure them.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

Surely this will be a project of many years. I can think of quite a few schools that have many points of access that are currently not controllable, as a result of deliberate structural design years ago. Not gonna name school names. Might as well start retrofitting, but it'll be a while before there's any realistic difference. And btw, nice camouflage, calling Huron "Pioneer." Appreciated! We can call Eberwhite Allen, and we can call Tappan Wines, and we can call Scarlett Skyline...


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

How about 10'razor wire topped fences around the building and a (sally port ) to get in and out. Maybe some gun towers at each corner of the grounds. If someone wants to get into the school to do harm to the kids they will,unless maybe you do all of the above. I know it sounds crazy,but its coming to this in todays world


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Figure out how you're going to handle the exterior door to Mack Pool before it opens on Sept. 3. We swimmers don't have the time or patience to ask "Mother, may I?"


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:44 p.m.

@haran-yes, there is, but would not protect kids in gym class.

Haran Rashes

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:54 p.m.

Isn't there an interior door between the main part of the school and the Pool office/locker room lobby. I assume that a door could be put on that to lock during the day, with crash bars towards the pool area.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

The way the "lockdown" system is now used is a joke. Schools are locked down for everything from a police incident 2 miles away to an armed person on the property, and teachers and other staff have no idea most times what the situation is.

Haran Rashes

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

While I am in favor of locking the school doors during the day, I also question whether or not students will prop them open. I can see this especially happening at the High School level. Also what will happen at Huron, where so many of the students use "the Arch" to pass from one side of the building to another for classes? I cannot see them locking the Arch doors.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:21 a.m.

Students most likely will try to prop doors open, just like they try to cheat on tests or any other teenage student-like behavior. So then administrators and teachers need to be more vigilant in closing those doors. If not, replace them.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:18 p.m.

The A.L.I.C.E. system is a vast improvement over the "cower and pray" system that is currently in place in most schools. It focuses on increasing the flow of info to teachers and school staff during an incident; using escape when available, as opposed to huddling in a corner and waiting; empowering teachers to act; and giving teachers, and even students, techniques and tools that could help save their lives if an active shooter actually gets into their classrooms and escape is not possible.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

"... the "cower and pray" system that is currently in place in most schools..." Prayer isn't authorized for use in public schools, so they're limited to using the simplified "cower" system.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

"giving teachers, and even students, techniques and tools" horsepucky!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

Unbelievable that AA Schools STILL allow open access after years of Criminal Access in other locations around the country. How many children must die or be held hostage before AAPS decides that a secured school campus is preferable to one open to anybody wanting to do harm to the area's children, make a name for themselves, etc.? Absolutely amazing .....


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

I'm just trying to understand why I'm getting thumbs-down. Am I misunderstanding something from the article? Are the school doors not left unlocked during school hours, contrary to what is happening across the nation (where school districts are locking schools down while students are in session) ?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:24 a.m.

That's not what the article says, ahuronparent? It says that (basically) that anyone can come in, that you're supposed to stop or sign in at the office, etc. Do you think someone intending to do harm is going to follow that rule? The article says the doors of all schools are kept UNLOCKED during school hours!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:51 p.m.

Well, they don't, exactly. Some schools already have almost all doors locked, and people at the doors. Some are aggressive about making sure you are approved to visit. There's a lot of variation. And there is HUGE variation in building design. It's gonna take a while. Schools are trying to balance safety against having buildings that look and feel like bunkers, which will scarcely improve performace, attendance, all the other good and worthy goals the schools and the school system have.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

I'll be following up on the ALICE training system in another story. But to the matter at hand—what do you think of locking doors during the school day? Long overdue? Huge hassle?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

Hassle and incomplete solution as so many have pointed out. Spend the money on mental health classes and apply some reasoning to the doors we have now.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

I don't want to sound as if I don't care, but we have become a knee jerk reactionary nation. When ever a tragedy occurs somewhere in the country, every similar location feels the need to take action as if this same scenario will occur over and over again. However, any reasonable organization or business has some control method to prevent unauthorized entry. Implementing policies and procedures will keep people out who should not be in the school.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

Hassle. At Huron, the athletic lobby is light years away from the Main Entrance and visitors have no idea how to access that area.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

Thanks TruBlu, I did not know that about the Sandy Hook shooting, guess I assumed doors were unlocked.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:36 a.m.

It's worth pointing out that Sandy Hook El. had a "security door" which was locked at the time Lanza arrived. He simply shot out the small window in the door so he could reach inside and unlock the door. After that, he was apparently unhindered. I believe code requirements call for windows in school doors. But even "old" technology provides the option of making the windows so that breaking them triggers an alarm both at the school office and the police department. So it's not only whether doors should be locked but having properly constructed doors, too.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

GREAT IF: 1) assailant is still outside, what if they're already inside? (student /teacher/admin) 2) doors, locks and adjoining walls are hardened. None of them are, and it would not take much effort to bypass them, even less effort with a weapon. Oh there is so much more but what's the point?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

Potential problem at the Mack Pool entrance door that serves the school, the pool, and the dental office. If it kept locked, it will be an inconvenience to many unless someone is stationed there all the time. Any suggestions?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

OBTW Amy your stories are not showing up when you select Education from the News header. They do show up in News, but not in education. Probably a keyword issue in your software.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Many schools have doors directly into classrooms. Children will let someone in if they knock and ask nicely. This will need to change. The doors need to stay, but the children need to learn not to open it. Many schools have recess, locking the doors when the children are out, means someone has to stay at the door to let them in and out, and they go in and out all during the recess time period. In many schools the students can go outside at lunchtime, again the need for someone to see them in and out. There is a period in the morning when students arrive, if the doors are locked they will have to mass outside, regardless of the weather, if they leave the doors open for arrival, someone could slip in with the students, if the students are massed outside, that is an easy target with little or no ability to escape. So much of this is situational and may or may not make sense based on weather, building, time of day and other factors. The fact that the some of the staff in many buildings (not everyone, just some) take little or no notice of what goes on outside their "space" (office, cubical, classroom, lunchroom, etc.) means that any system is probably doomed to failure. Only when the adults have situational awareness, is there a chance to avoid issues. So long as they don't take responsibility for watching beyond their area, no locked door will prevent anything. For instance most doors have windows, a sledgehammer will easily break the glass and allow someone to use the bar on the inside of the door - if someone is paying some attention, the police will get a call, if not - well, I don't want to think about it.

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

And evacuate to where? Some of the schools have no where to go, the closest place being half a mile away. AAPS started new things last school year, and then different strategies this year? Oh, and be prepared, there will be other new strategies for the next school year!

An Arborigine

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

Just be sure to be on the correct side of that locked door


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

The high school pictured is Huron, not Pioneer.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

Thanks Jillian. It's been corrected. The photos were changed in the post and the coding had not been fixed.