Parents advocate for school security upgrades

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Some parents are asking for more ways to keep students safe. These parents are part of the district’s Crisis Team. That team has been around for a while, but only recently have parents been added to it. Now these parents are asking for different security upgrades. They’re suggesting things like see-through backpacks and random searches.

These parents say this not only in response to recent incidents at area schools, including a large fight and a student bringing a gun to school; but it’s also in response to a shift all across the country.

“Together hopefully we can improve a lot of things,” said parent and Crisis Team member Jenelle Keene.

As a parent of two Champaign school students, Keene believes it’s time security changes are made, but she knows it can’t all happen overnight.

“People know well that there have been concerns at the schools this year and so again, just like any other community, there are debates of what do you do? How do you make that work.”

Those debates are happening at monthly Crisis Team meetings. The team includes school staff, firefighters, police department representatives and parents.

“We actually need to make sure that our kids are safe, and I think it’d be naive to think just in the day and age we live in, that there aren’t concerns, that there aren’t kids walking around with things that they shouldn’t have access to.”

Keene says they have tossed around the idea of giving staff walkie-talkies, clear backpacks and metal detectors. It’s a lot of change she says is worth it.

“At the end of the day, if we’re gonna have something like metal detectors, if searching my kids a few times along the way and walking through that line like everybody else, if that’s what it takes to keep everybody safe, I’m okay with that.”

The school district confirmed they are talking about those changes, but the only one in the works is getting walkie-talkies. However, they said those are not in response to any specific incidents.

While Keene is looking forward to seeing safety upgrades, she knows the school district can’t be expected to do it alone.

“As difficult as it is because life’s busy, we as parents have to step up too. We have pay attention.”

Another change discussed on Tuesday was taking students’ phones away during the school days. It is also not finalized yet, but was a possibility noted.

Urbana schools are also looking at possible safety upgrades. They have been considering a full-time School Resource Officer (SRO) at both the middle and high schools. Right now they only have one part-time SRO. The board will make its final decision during their meeting in two weeks.

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