Intruder Drill Prompts Door Lock Upgrade

Isabel Owens and Genie Lee

The Acalanes Union High School District is planning to an install automatic door-locking device, the “Lock Block,” on each classroom door on campus in response to teacher concern regarding emergency drill procedures.

The timeline for installation has yet to be determined.

Social studies teacher Diane Bessette has “taken a lead” in pushing the district to consider automatic locks, according to math teacher Ken Ingersoll.

“If we were to have some kind of emergency situation where we have to very quickly lock the doors, the teachers would have to go outside of their classrooms, stand outside with their key, and physically lock the door and go back inside. And some teachers are concerned that this is a safety issue, not just for teachers, but for everybody,” Bessette said. “The idea is that if a door is open for a longer period of time that could give someone easier access to the room.”

The Lock Block is a device that attaches to the door on the inside. Teachers open their door for “a couple of seconds,” close it, and pull down on the device to activate the automatic lock, said Bessette. Teachers do not have to step outside their room.

“I first became aware of it when I visited Gunn High School last year as part of the block schedule investigation and noticed that all of their doors have something called a Lock Block. I looked it up and they were around 10 dollars or so each and I thought ‘Well, that seems reasonable,’ and I mentioned it to Mr. Walker and asked if that was something that the district could do for us,” Bessette said.

According to Vice Principal Jon Drury, Acalanes High School also has automatic locks affixed to their doors. “They [Acalanes High School doors] have a magnetic strip because their door frames are metal, while ours are a combination of wood and metal, so they have magnets that go over their locking devices,” he said.

Bessette said that other Campolindo teachers have been “trying to work with the district on this for a while.” December’s emergency drill reignited the conversation. “[The drill] made me realize it had been a while since I talked to the administration, and you know, I’m a parent here. I’m a teacher here. I’m also a lawyer. So I can see these things from different perspectives, and so it just seems like something that the district would want to do to keep everybody safe,” Bessette said.

Drury and AUHSD Director of Facilities Dave Humphrey talked “for a while,” according to Drury, about which lock to buy. Drury announced at the staff meeting on January 4 that the district had chosen to install Lock Blocks at a cost of about 10 dollars per door.

Ingersoll said that before the district finally agreed to pay for the locks, teachers were considering raising the money themselves. “It should be a no brainer. The district wants us to protect children –they should be helping us. I think the district has a responsibility to make sure all schools are safe and equally safe, because right now we don’t have the same lock down procedures or abilities as Acalanes,” Ingersoll said.

“I’m old. I don’t care about me. I’ll go out there and take a shot. But I’d take a shot and make sure I slam the door shut so the shooter can’t get in. But to think about 8 dollars per door or 13 dollars per door for a childs life –of course [it’s worth it]. It’s an invaluable thing and the district should be doing something about it,” Ingersoll explained.

Ingersoll said that “no one” is opposed to the Lock Blocks. “This is about child safety,” he said. “If somebody got hurt in my classroom, I would have a hard time going home, and I would have a hard time facing other students, other teachers, so I don’t think any teacher would be against it, even if it’s a slight complication.”

Sophomore Lauren Landry said, “There could be a risk that the intruder could see people on campus because just opening the door by itself signifies that there are people in that classroom. I think that if we put a lock on all the doors, one that doesn’t require the teacher to step outside, it would secure the safety of this school.”

“I don’t think anybody is opposed to safety,” Bessette said.

Drury said that “all the schools” in the district should have automatic locks “for security and safety purposes.”