NJ dad’s video exposes how easy it is to walk into a school
NEWTON — A Sussex County school district says it will be hiring another security guard after a father posted a video showing him entering an unsecured elementary school building and walking around without being stopped.
The Facebook Live video by PJ Spinella got many comments from other parents worried about the lack of security during a time when school districts across the country are worried about mass shootings and other threats.
Spinella said the doors of the pre-K to 4th grade Merriam Avenue School are normally locked during school hours and visitors have to be buzzed in. But during the after-school program, which his daughter attends, anyone can enter.
“I was walking around for 15 minutes and nobody is saying ‘Can I help you? Who are you?’” he said. “I had full access to the school.”
Schools Superintendent G. Kennedy Greene reached out to Spinella after the video was posted to explain security policies the district is developing.
Greene told New Jersey 101.5 on Friday that the district is hiring a second afternoon security monitor for afternoon activities at Merriam.
The district also is getting a visitor management system that can scan driver’s licenses and check databases to make sure a visitor is not violating any child custody order involving a student.
Spinella said he thinks about the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children and six adults dead. Since that incident and subsequent shootings at schools across the country, districts in New Jersey have stepped up security and considered employing armed police officers to patrol school grounds.
Greene said the district has considered hiring armed guards but officials decided they were not necessary in a 3-square-mile town with its own police force. Greene said police also have access to the district’s portable radio communications and surveillance cameras.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.