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Boise High Security Changes Spark Debate

Keycard+readers+are+just+one+part+of+the+new+security+measures+Boise+High+recently+adopted.+
Keycard readers are just one part of the new security measures Boise High recently adopted.

Keycard readers are just one part of the new security measures Boise High recently adopted.

Photo Credit: Sofi Serio

Photo Credit: Sofi Serio

Keycard readers are just one part of the new security measures Boise High recently adopted.

Alex Swerdloff, Social Media Editor

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Shortly after the violence at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida triggered a national debate about school safety, posters started appearing in the halls of Boise High School. They read, in part, “Afraid for your safety? For the safety of a friend?”, followed by a hotline number students could dial to make a report to the police.

The posters were just one part of a new series of security changes made around Boise High. In addition to the posters, students are also required to carry passes with them in the halls if they leave class during a non-passing-period, and the administration is in the process of reviewing the school’s evacuation procedures in an effort to make them safer. “The security and safety of our students is the first thing I think about when I get up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed,” says Boise High’s principal Mr. Thompson.

The new security measures also involve revamping security policies already in place, like rules requiring students to remove hats when in the school building, and taking out earbuds in the classroom. Though these policies are often bemoaned by students, Mr. Thompson and the administration insist that there’s a reason behind the stricter enforcement. “Us wanting to spoil somebody’s fun has nothing to do with it,” says Mr. Thompson. “It has everything to do with safety and security. For example, most people think that the reason we don’t want you to wear a hat is because it’s ‘disrespectful.’ That has nothing to do with it. It has to do with obscuring your identity. Anything that makes it difficult to recognize your face, either from far away or on a camera, that’s a problem.”

The same goes for wearing headphones during class. “If you have your headphones in and there’s an emergency situation, you’re not going to hear the prompts for how to respond. You may not even know that danger is approaching. Same thing with being distracted or inattentive in the classroom,” says Mr. Thompson.

Despite the administration’s efforts, not everyone agrees that the new policies are the best way to go about making Boise High safer. “I don’t think the hall pass system is going to be particularly effective, because people aren’t going to carry passes,” says Boise High junior Quinn White. She’s also concerned that the renewed security has changed the atmosphere at Boise High: “The security is good, but it feels like we’re living in a little bit of fear now. And I guess that’s OK, but I’m not sure that these preventative measures are going to be effective. I think the really effective measures are going to come from higher up, from gun legislation and help for mental illness.”

Mr. Thompson agrees that Boise High can’t do everything to stop school violence. “Will key card readers, ID badges, and attendance prevent a situation like what happened in Florida?” he asks. “No. But they’re certainly a deterrent. And anything we can do that keeps that behavior outside our front door is something we’re going to do.”

Perhaps the most important deterrent has nothing to do with physical barriers like keycard readers or hall passes. “The stuff that’s most important is the stuff that we do every day: talking to each other, having programs like our Sources of Strength program, any club or activity that helps people feel connected to their community,” says Mr. Thompson. “When you look at the history of violence in schools, it originates with students who feel that they’ve been pushed out of the community.”

And, he says, “The last thing we want is for a student at Boise High to feel like they’re not a part of our community.”

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Boise High Security Changes Spark Debate