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Tighter security includes check-in, check-out at Perham elementary

Security procedures have been revised at Perham Heart of the Lakes Elementary School, following a few potentially volatile situations.

All doors, with the exception of the main entrance, will be locked all day, reported elementary Principal Kari Yates at the Oct. 15 Perham-Dent School Board meeting.

Security cameras are also mounted at the front entrance.

"We recently have had a few incidents with non-custodial parents showing up or threatening to show up at school to attempt to see and/or pick up their kids. All three cases involved individuals with past histories of violence and/or incarceration," said Principal Yates.

At any given point in time, there are a number of children, probably in most schools, who are at risk and whose parents or other significant adults have been served with Orders for Protection in an attempt to insure their safety, she added.

"We ask that parents work with us and understand that we do not wish to inconvenience anyone, but the age we live in requires that we put student safety ahead of adult convenience," wrote Yates in a hand-out to families. "The following procedures will help to insure the safety of all students during the school day."

If parents and visitors are coming into the building for any reason during the school day:

---Stop in the office before visiting any other areas of the building.

---Sign in, indicating reason and location of the visit.

---Place a name tag where it is visible to staff members.

---Before leaving the building, stop back to check-out as well.

If you need to pick your child up during the school day:

---Let the school know in advance by sending a note with your child in the morning.

---When you arrive at the school to get your child, please come to the office.

---Office staff will call the classroom and your child will meet you in the office. The school cannot allow students to wait outside for parents coming to pick them up for an appointment during the school day.

If you are picking your child up at the end of the day:

---Wait in the front corridor of the building until 3:15 when the announcement is made releasing children.

---If you need to access your child sooner than 3:15, you can do so by going into the office and having them call the classroom.

"We hope that parents will understand these procedures are put in place only because we take seriously our responsibility to account for the safety of children at all times," said Yates.

"We view keeping children safe during the school day as our number one priority. And although nearly all adults coming and going from the school have completely valid reasons for being on the school grounds, it only takes one adult with misguided intentions to create anxiety and potential chaos."

"It is not our intention to offend anyone or make them feel unwelcome. However, we would rather risk offending an adult, than having a child walk out the door with the wrong person," said Yates.