Security Tightened at Maryland Schools

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    NEWSLETTERS

    At Ashburton Elementary School in Bethesda, Md., the front door is locked. To enter, all visitors must use the intercom under the watchful eye of a closed-circuit camera. Their pictures appear on a computer in the front office, and they have to identification. Drivers licenses are scanned into to a security system.

    It's part of Montgomery County Public Schools' plan to increase school security.

    "The visitor management where somebody signs into the building and gets their visitor pass, that interfaces with the Maryland sex offender registry, so we can know that we have safe people coming into our facility," said Bruce Hansen, a cluster security coordinator for the Montgomery County Public Schools.

    This is the first year for the new security system at Ashburton.

    "We're really excited about having a new system because it's really for the safety and security of all of our students here at Ashburton," said principal Charlene Garran. "The only hesitation we had was that we didn't want the families to feel that we were keeping them out."

    Even parents who are known to the office staff have to go through the security check and sign in when they visit or volunteer. They don't mind a bit.

    "Just so I know that door isn't opened during the day and someone can walk in while our children are in the hall or cafeteria, during busy times like that, so they know who's coming in and out," Julie Kariya said.

    The school security system has been installed in 56 elementary schools. Under Montgomery County Public Schools' six-year program, all elementary schools will get the intercom and camera access control systems.