Administration implements new safety measures


Rachel Dadoo

Subschool 2 Assistant Principal Zack Winfrey, Director of Student Activities Corey Bowerman and Principal Scott Poole admit late students using the tardy table set up at the front entrance.

Alessandra Tazoe, news editor

While students were on summer break, the school’s administration worked diligently on enhancing security as well as bringing in systematic additions to the school environment. In the wake of high profile school shootings around the country, school safety has been an issue of national conversation, and FCPS has emphasized emphasized the safety of students and staff.

Many of the newly implemented security measures are physical elements, like a new ring-in system for the modular unit, the installation of extra security cameras and the locking of all entrance and classroom doors during school hours. There have also been improvements in security protocols set in place to provide a safer school environment.

“We’re rethinking the way that we respond when we go into a lockdown. We are going to be, for the first time, practicing situations during transition times, like during lunch or a passing time,” Principal Scott Poole said. “When students are in transition, they’re moving around the building; that can be a particularly chaotic situation if we don’t plan for it.”

FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand asked all administrative teams to focus on their school’s safety, according to Subschool 4 Assistant Principal Amy Parmentier. This not only includes the physical revisions to the schools, but also staff additions to promote wellness throughout the building.

“The school board funded additional school social worker and school psychologist positions to help support mental health needs of students,” Parmentier said. “It’s these little things that all contribute, hopefully, to a safe school environment.”

As of Sept. 10, the new tardy table system was set in place. This policy was established by the administration to address last year’s widespread student tardiness at the beginning of the school day and to increase school safety by decreasing the number of people walking around the building after the bell rings.

“There’s a large body of research that shows that there’s a very high correlation between attendance and student achievement. When students miss school, it puts them at a disadvantage,” Poole said. “We want to do everything we can to help students for success at school, so we are shifting the way we do things.”

The tardy policy enforces the locking of classroom and school doors at 8:10 a.m., making the front entrance the only way to get into the building after the bell rings; this is where the main tardy table is located. The other tardy table is in the modular unit so that students with classes there do not have to report to the main building for their passes.

The accumulation of tardies will not go without consequences. For the first two tardies in each quarter, the student will be let off with a warning; after that, however, consequences ranging in severity from lunch detention to Saturday school to in-school suspension will be implemented.

Rumors about the new policy started to circulate even before Poole’s message on the Knightly News, causing mixed reactions among the student body.

“I have [swim] practice before school in Loudoun County, so it’s kind of a tight fit and sometimes I’m running late,” junior Madison Kim said. “If they close the doors and I have to go downstairs and get lunch detention, then that’s kind of scary.”

The particular attention being paid to school safety and student absences this year also made way for the introduction of a new administrator, Dean of Students Laura Totoro.

“One of the main reasons we’ve created that position is to improve attendance and to help intervene with struggling students academically, socially and emotionally,” Poole said. “Having one person who is tracking what’s happening with students, we really believe we are going to be able to help make some inroads on this issue and help the students.”  

These new security policies and additions may change the way students and staff view the school, but in the end, they were all instituted with everyone’s safety in mind.

“School safety and security is not just the function of the admin team and security staff,” Poole said. “Every single student in the school can play a part, every staff member, every parent; we all have to be looking out for each other.”