More Locks on the Dog Pound

A talk with security about Garfield’s new safety measures

The years since Covid have been rough for Garfield and Seattle Schools, but the district’s recent changes to security are hoping to fix that. Isaac Yescas is a new member of Garfield’s security staff working in conjunction with Dr. Hart to implement our new security rules. But what are they? These changes are part of district-wide effort to add call-boxes to every school. Hopefully they’ll help school officials to be able to “better control who comes in and out of the school” Dr. Hart says. According to Yescas, who previously worked security at Rainier Beach, Ballard, and Ingraham, the new rules, likely catalyzed by the shooting at Ingraham in November, aim to keep our student population safe even as security staff leave. The main doors now will be switched to the leftmost pair on the front of the school and spend most of the day locked by a timed system that will automatically open them during passing periods and lunch. People who take the bus shouldn’t worry though, the school will still be accessible for the first 30 minutes of class in case of late comers.  Anyone looking to access the building afterwards will need to buzz-in to the front desk and be let in by Ms. Hurd. While admittance is purely up to the judgment of the man on the buzzer, students will have to state their name and should also be noted that students may sometimes also be asked to state their business at the school. This goes for parents too, who will be expected to report straight to the front office after they’re let in. Hart has also said  that everyone buzzing in during the school day will be added to a  “List of individuals who are buzzed into the building” which will be checked to monitor student activity out of class. Security staff like Yescas hope these new rules will get students more used to using the front door and discourage people from holding open side doors for their friends. While this is for the benefit of Garfield students, some are worried about unintended side effects. The new doors on the left were being used for a long time before the rule change. They are actually a set of ADA doors, the building’s only set of ADA doors in fact. This means that they are required by the American with Disabilities Act for the school to be accessible to disabled students. While it may be too early to know for sure, overuse of the ADA doors could make it more difficult for students with disabilities, none of whom were consulted about the change, to access school. School security is a complex thing. Even in a world where staff could monitor and control the movement of every child in the building, high schoolers would still find a way to go vape in the bathroom. In the end only time can tell the real impact that these changes will have on the school.