Above and Beyond
Lovejoy ISD finds perfect partnership to increase safety and security of students.
Lovejoy Independent School District sits just 25 miles north of Dallas, Texas, on a 19-square-mile area in Collin County. The district is home to more than 4,500 students in grades K-12 and is known for its exemplary academic, fine arts and athletic programs. If there was any area in which the district wished to improve, it was the safety and security of their campuses.
Lovejoy ISD superintendent Ted Moore remembers the exact moment that the district decided to put more intense efforts into their security program. It all started with a group of volunteer parents.
“We had a safety committee that we ran in the spring,” Moore said. “The majority of the parents were in law enforcement of some kind; police officers, retired police officers or former experience in the military. After the session, a gentleman came up to me and said, ‘We moved to Lovejoy for some very definite reasons—including the academics and athletics—but now, looking at your safety and security program, I’d call what you are doing mediocre.’”
Lovejoy ISD does not do mediocre.
“These kids deserve exemplary around every important corner,” Moore said. “So from that day in April, we made a commitment to safety and security. It was going to be a new day by the time school started again in August.”
Identifying Security Concerns
Lovejoy began their assessment of security and safety and decided to focus in on three particular concerns: hardening buildings, crime prevention and decreasing response time to their campuses, as they are located in a rural area.
The district put several things in motion during the summer break before the 2018-2019 academic school year, including hiring on several school counselors, a Ph.D. psychologist to assess kids exhibiting concerning behaviors and six security officers for each of the campuses in the district, as well as a Director of Safety and Security.
“Before, the safety and security function had been just tied to one of the assistant superintendents among the list of 20 things he was responsible for,” Moore said. “As we did our assessment, we recognized we were going to need a professional in that area.”
In order to address decreasing response times to their rural campuses, the superintendent’s team had decided upon an emergency response system of some type. At the same time, founder and CEO of Enseo, Vanessa Ogle was completing an interview with D Magazine, a popular magazine in the Dallas metroplex, entitled “My Day: Vanessa Ogle.”
While this seems completely unrelated, it will all make sense in the end. Enseo was founded by Ogle in 2000 as a technology services provider that focuses on innovative technology with which you can deliver a service. The majority of Enseo’s clients are hotels, where the company delivers, among many things, entertainment and Wi-Fi services. One day, a client expressed interest in a solution to help keep housekeepers safe due to an ordinance in New York.
The lightbulb in Ogle’s head immediately went off.
“I thought, ‘You already have the technology installed that can do that,’” Ogle said. “We already have a 3D map of the hotel, I already know when things are happening in a specific area of the hotel and there is already a communication network in place. All we had to do was build a button and do a little math.”
From there, a panic button solution was born: MadeSafe. The solution is a complete system that accurately locates employees in distress and is fully integrated into Enseo’s technology platform. Ogle knew from the get-go that she would one day like to see this solution in an educational environment.
Fast forward to December of 2017: Ogle was working with D Magazine for an article about a day in the life of area CEOs. Ogle told the reporter that her daughter would be singing in a Christmas concert as a third-grade member of the choir from a Lovejoy ISD elementary school—she asked if they could reschedule the interview, or work around it, but the reporter asked to come along.
Throughout the day, Ogle was asked by the reporter what she wished she could be doing that she wasn’t currently doing.
“I’m so glad that I am keeping housekeepers safe, but what I want to be doing is using that technology to keep our children safe,” Ogle told the D Magazine reporter. “I just need the time and energy to figure out how to do that and who to talk to.”
Months later, the article was published and included in the piece was a photo of the Puster Elementary School choir. Excited to see the image, Ogle forwarded along the article to the choir instructor, who then forwarded it along to an assistant superintendent.
It was there that Assistant Superintendent Dr. Dennis Womack saw the comment Ogle made about keeping children safe with Enseo’s MadeSafe solution. It was exactly the kind of solution that the superintendent’s team had been thinking of implementing at Lovejoy ISD.
Immediately after seeing the solution, the Lovejoy ISD team asked Enseo and Ogle to demonstrate the product and talk them through the solution. Within two weeks, the team decided to move full steam ahead, telling Enseo they wanted a MadeSafe panic button around the neck of every Lovejoy staff member by the first day of school—which began in five weeks.
Enseo was up to the challenge. From the moment that Enseo knew and understood that Lovejoy wanted the solution, they began working to set up the system.
“They instantly had everything we needed at the tip of their fingers,” Ogle said of the Lovejoy administration. “I’ve never seen an organization so well organized. From data on blueprints, data on network infrastructure, wiring diagrams, building diagrams—they gave us access to everything.”
Ogle sent her teams to the Lovejoy campuses, where they began to survey each building and put together their own system engineering network diagrams. From there, the teams deployed the on-campus equipment, which includes receivers or gateways in every classroom and public student space. These receivers and gateways, or beacons, create a high-resolution detection grid of the campus.
“There’s a lot of cloud-based computing to understand what the maps of the campuses look like,” Ogle said. “[The MadeSafe solution] also holds blueprints and camera footage of what is happening on those campuses so that when first responders can come in, not only as quickly as possible, but with as much data as possible, so they can make the best choices for how they will address whatever the situation is.”
After the on-campus equipment was installed and running, the Enseo team set out to deploy their PLDs, or Personal Locator Devices, to the Lovejoy teachers. Now, Lovejoy ISD requires all staff members to wear their PLD as part of their ensemble.
“[The PLD] has been assigned to each employee so the system understands who has hit the button for three seconds, signaling the alarm,” Ogle said. “The cloud-based computing system tells us who set off the alarm and where they are located. Designated personnel, including administrators and first responders, are all alerted to the need of this particular teacher, in that particular classroom, by a text message, an email and on the base station.”
Moore says the solution was exactly what they were looking for.
“As we were studying, we knew that we needed to find an opportunity to cut down on the response time, and since we were adding officers to each campus, it became even more important,” Moore said. “We didn’t know about Enseo at first, but we knew what we wanted. That’s why we were able to make a quick decision, because it was a round peg for a round hole that we had created.”
After installing and deploying the MadeSafe solution, the feedback from the staff has been positive.
“I think people are thrilled with the opportunity,” Moore said. “A teacher’s first priority is the safety of their children, but when they see there has been another school shooting involving the staff, you have to know that rattles them.”
The district hopes that the MadeSafe solution will help them to move forward to a safer, more secure campus, but they aren’t leaving anything up to chance. In addition to the MadeSafe solution, new director of security and safety, and counselors, the district is looking into better securing their athletic events, training their students in first aid and starting more security and safety committees to continue the conversation of security on campus.
Director of Security and Safety Dan Buholtz, who has a background in military and law enforcement, may be new to the school district but is passionate about the safety of the students, as his daughter attends class at one of the elementary schools.
“I trust our director of security and safety to protect each and every one of our 4,500 students like he is protecting his own daughter,” Moore said.
Buholtz is motivated to live up to Moore’s expectation and carry out the district’s plans to secure their schools.
“The community as a whole here has taken it amongst themselves to create an environment where kids feel safe,” Buholtz said. “It is phenomenal.”
As for Enseo and Ogle, they are just as excited as Lovejoy to be bringing safety and security to the school district.
“To have the opportunity to launch this solution in an independent school district who is truly focusing on all the aspects of wellbeing of these students – we couldn’t be more proud,” Ogle said.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.