The classrooms in southwest Ohio’s largest suburban school system are now equipped with a device to keep out deadly armed intruders as districts continue to grapple with school security issues at the start of another school year.
Lakota Schools’ 1,200 classrooms feature a smallish, heavy-duty steel device that can be used to secure a door shut, keeping out an active shooter or other violent threat loose in a school building.
Dubbed “Bearacades” and made by an Ohio company of the same name, the door stop, which is quickly and easily secured by a sturdy metal pin inserted into a hole drilled into a school’s cement under flooring, transforms classrooms into safe havens, officials said.
“The Bearacade system is a time saver for our staff, should they ever be put in a dangerous situation,” said Lakota Superintendent Matt Miller. “The device deploys in 3 to 8 seconds, securing the room quickly. The safety of our students and staff is always our number one priority.”
Lakota is the latest of a handful of area school districts to install the Bearacade devices, joining, among others, Talawanda and Kings Schools in southern Warren County.
Woodland Elementary Principal John Wise said the new security device was welcomed by teachers.
“It’s an overall positive response. They like having as much on hand to help them in case something goes wrong,” said Wise. “It’s extremely important to give peace of mind to our teachers, our students and our community.”
Lakota’s Chief Operations Officer Chris Passarge said the security door stops are just one part of safety upgrades at the district’s 23 school buildings started during summer break and continuing into the school year.
“The district has also upgraded its (security) camera system at the main campuses of both Lakota East and West high schools,” said Passarge.
Lakota officials said these additions follow other new safety measures introduced during the last school year when Lakota hired eight new school resources officers, bringing its total to 18, which is one at each campus.
Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for the district, said Lakota also implemented a new visitor management system called Raptor at each of its buildings requiring driver license and the issuance of photo IDs worn by all visitors.
“We will continue to evaluate our safety protocols on a regular basis,” said Miller.
The District Safety Committee, which meets on a regular basis, includes district administrators, school board members, first responders from both Liberty and West Chester townships and emergency management officials.