Olathe Public Schools to start using new security technology

OLATHE, Kan. (KCTV) – When school starts next week at Olathe, staff will be trained on new security technology that uses an ID-style badge to call for help at the press of a button.

A shooting at Olathe East High School in March worried many parents and children. At a community meeting, some asked about metal detectors. The district opted against intrusive interventions like this.

Instead, they will equip all staff with something called Crisis alert. In a presentation to the school board Thursday night, the district administration said Director of Security Services Brent Kiger actually began researching the product late last year. It was before the shooting.

This is a badge intended for daily wear under the staff identification badge. On one side is a recessed button. By pressing it three times, administrators, school resource officers and school nurses are summoned with the exact location of the emergency. It could be a fight or a medical emergency.

Staff are currently being trained in the system. The intention is that they use it often, for small and large incidents.

“Whether a member of staff has chest pain themselves, they can press the button three times and help is on the way. The student gets injured on the playground, the teacher can push the button three times and help is on the way,” said Assistant Superintendent of Safety Services, Dr. Jim McMullen.

No more sending someone down the hall for help.

The system also has an option to trigger a lockout. This involves pressing the button eight times. It sends an alert to all computer screens in the building and triggers strobe lights in hallways and a recorded announcement to lock doors, turn off lights, and stay out of sight.

“This is really the first time that we’ve basically empowered all of our staff to say that if they see anything of a critical nature, a critical threat, they can notify everyone in the building – students and staff – that there is a real threat here and we need to get behind a locked door,” Kiger said.

The board approved the expenses earlier in the school year. The bulk of the funding comes from a bond approved by voters in the spring. District spokeswoman Becky Grubaugh said the district also secured a grant from the State Department of Education to offset some of the initial cost.

A board member said some staff feared they would be followed. McMullen clarified that tracking only triggers when the button is pressed and the alert is active. He added that it only works in school district buildings.

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