Security at Lafayette


Eva Alcaraz-Monje

Lexington, KY- One security implementation at Lafayette, temporary ID badges, was found on a class bulletin board and not on a student.

On October 28th, 2022, students arrived at school bright, early, and ready to learn. But as they entered the gym, a shocking sight greeted them. There were lines and lines of students at the metal detectors going out of the gym doors. While lines at metal detectors are usually time-consuming, these were unlike any this reporter had seen all year.

The lines were out the door, and the administration checked badges outside the gym doors. While badge checking has been prevalent since the beginning of the school year, Lafayette was cracking down on badges like never before.

Security administrators moved from the gym doors entering the hallway up to the front gym entrance. Before this new enforcement, students could get through metal detectors without a badge. However, they would be stopped, sent to the library to get a temporary badge and have to pass through security again. Now, students need a badge even to enter the gym.

The culprit to this new enforcement is likely the incident occurring at Henry Clay High School on October 27th, 2022. The day before the new procedure implementation, a student at Henry Clay High School notified security officers that another student had a loaded gun in their possession. The student entered the building when a class came inside from an outside activity, bypassing school metal detectors and procedures. The school was immediately locked down, and the student was found and arrested. The student was taken into police custody quickly, and, fortunately, no one was hurt.

“After the (almost) shooting at Henry Clay, I think the school was startled and realized it could happen to us too. I’m sure Henry Clay has similar security measures to us,” commented Joey Hester, a concerned sophomore here at Lafayette. All FCPS high schools have the same security measures, including mandated badges to enter, metal detectors, and security officers.

“We were already talking about the potential for students to get past us without a badge or the potential for there to be something in a bag that maybe wasn’t as obvious as it could be,” said Lafayette High School Principal Dr. Anthony Orr. “We were already talking about those things, and it’s not at all funny, but it is ironic that once that happened at Henry Clay, we were like, yup, those things that we’ve been talking about, we have to address them.”

The problem is these changes weren’t made sooner. Something as dangerous as what happened at Henry Clay had to happen for our administrators to realize that our security was not enough and enact change. Previous policy implementations, even current ones, left the potential for students or strangers to bring in dangerous objects. School administration left the possibility for harm to be caused to students for too long before deciding to change.

“They aren’t really checking the bags. They check the bags themselves, but only a few check lunchboxes, and I’ve witnessed people not check hard-cased instrument cases before, where there very realistically could be a weapon inside,” Hester said.

Badges were the main target of the new enforcement, with no student allowed to enter without an I.D.

“What we have really done is tighten up on how we check the badges,” Orr stated.

This was a necessary change that should’ve been the standard. If someone entered the gym, without verification, and with a weapon, they wouldn’t have been stopped. During the mornings, there are a large number of students passing through the gym, even greater numbers of students during bus drop off. If 100 kids were caught in the gym with a shooter, it would be the greatest school shooting in U.S. history. Sandy Hook, regarded as one of the worst school shootings, had 26 victims.

Gun laws and safety have been a very political issue as of late, with the Uvalde school shooting in May and the LGBTQ+ club shooting in Colorado just on November 19th, 2022. At Lafayette, many enforcement measures, like metal detectors and screening, are designed to ensure everybody in the building is, either student or staff, protected against a mass shooter.

“I never had to show my badge- even when the crowd was only about 20 or so people. Neither administration nor staff ever stopped me until the first day they implemented those changes,” commented a senior who wishes to remain anonymous on the new changes. “It’s not a big deal since I’m a student, but what if I wasn’t? It seems as though administration can’t tell the difference.”

While mistakes can be made in the process, the most important thing is to address those problems quickly to prevent further damage. Yet, based on the fact that there were discussions to change the enforcement of the security policy, the Lafayette administration knew about the students passing by and did not fix it. They let students pass without making sure they were students, which compromised the safety of our school as a whole

“The way we were doing it before, we knew that [kids were getting] through that didn’t have a badge,” said Dr. Orr, referencing the time before the new security enforcements.

“I didn’t have a badge for the first two weeks of school because I was a transfer student, and no one questioned me once,” admitted Hester when asked if they had ever seen people get by without badges.

Regardless, the sudden change in enforcement came as a surprise for all students on that first day. The unbelievable lines were full of students who had to walk around the library for temporary badges.
Teachers, students, and parents should have been alerted of this enforcement change. A teacher at Lafayette told The Times that she thought the administration was screening badges before students even got into the building, citing a General dispatch about security. In the General Dispatch, a communication Slide Deck for families and staff, dated September 5th, 2022, parents and teachers were told, “Per the FCPS district safety plan, all students must have their student ID/badge visible to enter the building.”

“I would say that notification was given when metal detectors were installed years ago; what changed was how tight we were on enforcement,” Orr replied.

However, on that first day, knowledge of change would have been helpful towards the lines, leading to efficiency in getting students into the building and class.

School security is one of our administration’s most important jobs, ensuring that our school is safe for everyone in the building. Badge checks are helpful when done correctly and with efficiency. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about changing school security because we have to live in a society where doing metal detector screenings to ensure students are not bringing in guns is a daily occurrence.

The school can investigate if or what is going wrong with the security systems and not sit idly by—not waiting for a terrible accident, such as a school shooting, to happen before they change it in the future.
Checks for metal detector efficacy are an excellent way to ensure that metal detectors accurately see if students are not bringing in weapons. Evaluations of bag-checking accuracy, even with a fake weapon, could ensure that the security administrators are efficient with their searches. Checking the system to ensure it works could prevent holes in the system.

“I think for what it is might be a bit lackluster, but it’s far better than the security of any other school I’ve been to,” mentioned an anonymous senior. “However, there isn’t really a way to properly search everyone and do it in a short amount of time. So we definitely sacrifice being thorough for efficiency. Before the new security, I just slipped by before [someone outside] check[ed] them.”

The problems addressed recently by the administration–lack of badge checking and potential security breaches–should have been addressed before the incidents in other schools.

Our administration has begun to fix its mistakes since the beginning of the school year but has yet to accept responsibility for them.

The lack of attention to the details of security measures is unfortunate. The fact that the admin seemingly did not address the mistakes from the beginning of the semester is disheartening and dishonest. In the future, notification to parents and students is necessary to keep the line of communication open.