Monday, March 31, 2014

Safety and Security

Dear HA Family:

As you know, in order to improve the safety of our campus, we have enacted a number of security measures this year. One of those measures has been the requirement that all visitors sign in through the office and obtain a visitor pass.[1]

The establishment of the visitor pass system has served a dual purpose. First, of course, it allows us to ensure that any visitor actually belongs on campus. Prior to this system, I am told we frequently had delivery personnel and other visitors on campus without our knowledge. Obviously, this creates a potentially dangerous situation for the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

Another reason we require all visitors to sign in through the office is for their own safety. We have been told by both our insurance company[2] and by the local emergency management officials that should we have a dangerous intruder on campus, or should we have a fire or weather emergency, the authorities need to be able to account for every single person on the HA campus. 

Recently, we had a safety audit conducted by our insurance company, and one of the main recommendations made was that we take the visitor pass system one extra step, to include the requirement that visitors turn in an official form of identification (such as a driver’s license) when obtaining a visitor pass. Upon return of the visitor pass, the visitor would receive his or her identification. Adoption of this policy would allows us to document who is on campus, and know for sure when the visitor has left.

In fact, all of our visitor passes are currently depleted, and we now must create a new set. That means that a few score of our passes are either in someone’s possession, or they have been lost or discarded. Obviously, it defeats the purpose of the visitor pass system for individuals to keep them permanently. Even if we know you (as we do most of our visitors), we need to know whether and when you are on campus to protect your safety and help the authorities respond to any potential emergency situation.

So, in short, after spring break, we will ask all on-campus visitors to turn in an official identification in order to receive a visitor pass. Once the visitor leaves campus, he or she can return the pass to the front desk in Flowers Hall and receive his or her identification. 

I should note that we are also in the process of acting on another recommendation of our insurance company. They recommended the installation of a decorative security fence between the open areas at the front of the school and by the front parking lot.

We hope that you will fully support our efforts to protect the safety of everyone on our campus. As always, I am open to your suggestions on campus safety, or any other matter.


Dr. Scott Phillipps

[1] The other security measures we have enacted include requiring all school employees to wear a nametag, installing a security fence on the lower school side of the building, and scheduling regular intruder drills.
[2] Odom, Jeff, C.S.P. "Loss Control Visits." Letter to Debbie Thornton. Feb. 2014. MS. Houston Academy, Dothan, AL.  “All visitors now sign in at the office. Consideration should be given to holding car keys and drivers license of these visitors in a box at the office. In case of emergency, you should have the ID of everyone at the school that is not normally there, and they could be easily identified by emergency personnel.”