Making Schools More Secure

Making Schools More Secure

New Jersey high school upgrades security with new emergency response system

According to a study published in 2015 by U.S. News and World report, New Jersey High Schools ranked in the top 200 of approximately 20,000 high schools that were considered nationwide. As is evidenced by these rankings, quality education is a primary consideration for New Jersey parents, students, faculty and governing boards. Also primary to these stakeholders is a safe and secure environment, as is found at Sterling High School in Somerdale, New Jersey.

Sterling High School is a comprehensive regional public high school and school district serving approximately 1,000 students in ninth through twelfth grades. The school features a full complement of scholastic and athletic activities in addition to a wide range of continually updated academic programs. The campus comprises two buildings with approximately 70 classrooms and 10 administrative offices. Video surveillance cameras are located on the building exterior and throughout the school and students, faculty and staff wear identification badges.

Visitors are not allowed into the building without an appointment and all visitors must report to the general office upon arrival. Sterling High School also has a full-time resource officer from the Somerdale Police Department on board.

These are just some of the pro-active measures the school has in place to help ensure a safe and secure environment for the 1,200-1,500 individuals who are in the school every day. In keeping with these security initiatives, Sterling High School recently advanced their security to the next level with the implementation of the Sielox CLASS (Crisis Lockdown Alert Status System).

Sielox CLASS enhances awareness and communication in the event of an emergency. Designed for use in the K-12 and higher education environment, the system provides real-time classroom status, updates and notifications to administrators and first responders using graphical maps, email and text messaging to assist in making split-second decisions in the event of an incident or developing situation. The dynamic graphical map provides real-time status of up to right color conditions. The Sterling configuration consists of green (Safe/secure); pink (Morning Check-in); yellow (Danger outside building); blue (Medical emergency); orange (Disturbance); and red (Imminent Danger).

Per procedures established by school Superintendent Mark Napoleon, teachers staff and the local police department have all been given access to the system. Teachers are required to sign in to CLASS at the beginning of the school day and label their room “green”, indicating it is safe. As teachers move from one classroom to another, they again sign in and follow the same procedure, enabling the front office to know the location of faculty and the situation at all times.

“Implementation of CLASS has been a huge success because everyone, law enforcement included, is on board and committed,” said Mark Napoleon, superintendent. “It’s also a very easy system to use. It required almost no learning curve, which also contributed to acceptance.”

Sterling High School has used the system twice since going operational. The first time was an incident in the classroom when a student would not leave as directed. Without confrontation or making a call to the front office, the teacher simply activated the disturbance symbol on the computer and assistance was able to come immediately. The second incident involved a situation outside the building that warranted the “lockout” crisis to be activated. In both incidents, the CLASS system helped mitigate potentially dangerous situations.

As the school moves forward with their security initiatives, they intend to tie new operations into CLASS. For instance, it is currently integrated with an access control system to remotely lock exterior doors. In the future they will have a full lockdown of all doors, including the interior. It is interfaced to their paging system via the Sielox AC-1700 access control system outputs to trigger preprogrammed announcements and messages. Planned integration with existing hallway motion sensors will “track” intruders on the floorplan maps.

“Compared to other systems, the price and capabilities of CLASS gave us more value,” adds Superintendent Napoleon. “It was a great way to go in making the school safer and more secure.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

Digital Edition

  • Campus Security & Life Safety Magazine - May June 2021

    May / June 2021


    • Reducing Response Time
    • The Classroom Advantage
    • Preparing Your Campus
    • Protecting Digital Data

    View This Issue