PAISD tests school security by having men attempt to gain entry into buiildings

Published 12:06 am Saturday, September 3, 2022

Last week two men tried to gain access to schools in Port Arthur Independent School District in a strategic bid to check safety and security.

The district passed the test.

The men — who are with Crux Technology and Security Solutions — tried techniques such as speaking softly at a door entrance in a bid to have someone from inside the building open the door in order to hear better. The ploy didn’t work, Senior Security Consultant Jason Keller said.

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In another instance Keller caught the attention of two PAISD police officers who saw him walking around the district’s alternative center.

The ploy to test security is in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s mandate of a partial summer safety audit.

Dennis Porter, senior security consultant who also performed the safety checks, said the whole emphasis of the audit is ‘can people get in?’

“And right now it’s apparent the district has a policy they aren’t letting visitors in,” Porter said. “It was very apparent when I was trying to get in the various access points of 21 facilities that I was unable to do so 99.9 percent of the time.”

Any deficiencies found were reported to the district and will be handled, district leaders said.

Keller told trustees recently they conducted a 47-point checklist covering the partial audit and intruder assessment requirements as well as inspected all of the exterior hardware for functionality and provided the results to Dr. Melvin Getwood and members of the district so those items can be resolved expeditiously.

Keller and Porter are retired resource officers that travel across the safety and beyond conducting safety audits, Getwood said.

The two men are also vetted by the Texas education Agency and are part of the TEA registry.

Keller said officials with the district completed written policy on directing that all classrooms remain locked and closed when students are present, they’ve ensured the school behavioral threat assessment teams

have received the state mandated training and reviewed the campus specific procedures. In addition, staff and substitutes have been trained on district campus safety protocol.

The men commended the staff for monitoring entrances, breezeways, hallways, stairwells and restrooms.

“These are areas that sometimes do not have adequate staffing and as we’ve seen play out across the world, that when you don’t have adequate staff in place, bad things can happen,” Keller said. “One of the things that I will point out that is also problematic that many districts have is a culture of having propped doors. I have about 400 doors in your district and I saw four instances where a prop may be used. Of course those findings were reported to staff so they could be removed, but that’s less than 1 percent.”

For instances where doors are not latching properly, work orders were generated and teams were taking care of the issue.

The district’s police department is also doing a good job, the men said. The officers are highly visible and engaged.

In June, Gov. Abbott directed the Texas School Safety Center to being conducting comprehensive school safety reviews in a bid to maximize school safety, according to the Office of the Texas Governor.