A little more than a year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, schools are focused more than ever on how to keep kids safe.
To make sure his district is doing everything possible, Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler agreed to allow Target 8 investigators to try to bypass security in six different schools — while video recording.
Fifteen minutes. That is how long one of our undercover producers walked around North Rockford Middle School without being challenged.
Three of our other testers walked past empty security guard tables. One undercover tester at an elementary school was stopped within 30 seconds, while our second elementary school tester bypassed the same security measures without anyone questioning her.
While this story focuses on Rockford, the issue is broader, affecting every single school district across the country.
In the weeks leading up to the test, Target 8 set down some very specific ground rules for testers about what the purpose of the story was and what was expected of them.
In a meeting involving WOOD TV8′s news director and the six testers, the point was made very clearly that the goal was to not cause any fear or anxiety on any school campus.
Each tester was instructed to walk in the front door of each school and past the front office without stopping and getting a visitor’s pass. If a school staffer confronted them at any time, our testers were told they needed to reveal their identities.
Shibler wrote a letter for each of our Target 8 testers to have with them at all times. The letter explained who they were and what they were doing in the schools. Each of the six testers also had their WOOD TV8 identification badge with them at all times.
When deciding what schools would come under the microscope, Target 8 decided that six crews would simultaneously go into six different schools: two elementary, two middle and two high schools.
Rockford has a total of two middle schools, a freshman center and a high school. It also has nine elementary schools, from which Target 8 randomly chose two. Our undercover testers did not tour their assigned schools prior to the test. More than one tester did not even immediately know where the front doors to the buildings were located.
Every side door that each tester checked at every school was locked.
The test began at 11 a.m. on Jan. 30. The testers all went in at the same time in an effort to be fair to each of the schools tested. Each outcome, for better or worse, provided valuable information to keep kids safe.
Read more at WOODTV.com.