Locking doors at Leesville; A safety precaution or a nuisance?

The front of the main building on the campus of Leesville. The main entrance has become one of the few doors that are kept unlocked during school hours. (Photo used by permission of Erin Darnell.)

There have been 270 school shootings since in the United States since Columbine in 1999 according to ABC News Review.  New policies and safety precautions have been introduced to the Leesville Road High School community in order to become a safer school.

Wake County is not the only school system that has thought about implementing these new changes. “I think nationwide a lot of schools really reviewed what was happening as far as safety precautions, and initially, [Leesville], at the school level [knew] that we needed to do something,” said Kathryn Fehling, an assistant principal at Leesville Road High School.   

Around the country, school districts are usually the ones to execute new safety policies. But at Leesville, it was quite the opposite. The administrative team held a meeting with department chairs and presented their ideas to the county. The next morning the decision from Wake County Public School Security Office was in. Leesville would be one of the 187 schools to execute the new security policies.

The new policies indicate that most of the secondary doors be locked and devices called ‘A-phones’ be installed at the front of the school. The a-phone acts as a doorbell to let students and staff into the building.  

The general consensus of the Leesville student body was positive, though some students were not afraid to voice their concerns. “I think [the precautions] are necessary, but as far as the locked doors go, we need more time to get to our classes,” said Sese Jabir, a junior at Leesville.

In order to give students an adequate amount of time, one minute was added to the transition time.

As a junior, Jabir knows her way around the school, but the same can not be said about the freshman class and new students. “I think it’s going to take them some time to get used to [the precautions]. It’s hard enough trying to find your classes, let alone not being able to get through doors that will get you there faster,” Jabir said.

Administration at Leesville has acknowledged the new changes may be hard to adjust to, especially for new students. “Sure, that that means logistically that there are some challenges and trying to get everyone on the same page and understand what the expectations are has been the biggest challenge. At the end of the day, I haven’t heard anyone say we shouldn’t be doing this,” said Fehling.

Although some students have their reservations, Fehling is confident in the decision. “In general, we all felt that this was a necessary step. When you look at it through the standpoint of safety, I don’t think anyone can argue with the need to go ahead and lock up the doors and make it less accessible for the outside world to come in.”

Fehling wholeheartedly believes that the new precautions being taken are for the safety of Leesville’s students and its faculty. There are portions that do become hard to manage at times, but they’re all minor. “Does it require a few extra steps? Absolutely. But for our endgame of security, I don’t see those few extra steps being a big deal,” said Fehling.  


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