The role of building conditions in school safety
I had a lot of ground to cover in my story today about school violence in Baltimore. One issue that didn't make it into the article but that I think is worthy of consideration: how building conditions contribute to school safety.
One place I looked at was the Dr. Samuel L. Banks/Thurgood Marshall complex. After I inquired, school system officials discovered that the fire alarm there wasn't working. This in a building where four arsons were reported in the month of November. It wasn't until December that the alarm was fixed. Officials also discovered that many of the building's 64 interior security cameras were not operational; I'm told most have been fixed, as have broken locks on classroom doors.
At the Walbrook high school complex, again after my inquiries, officials found 19 rooms didn't have working intercoms -- leaving teachers unable to call for help if a problem arises.
I know a lot of folks are away for the break, but I'd love for those of you who are reading to weigh in on how building conditions at your school foster an environment of safety, or lack thereof. And why aren't these basic safety violations being reported to the central office as soon as they arise?
On a brighter note... The Street Soldiers program -- run at the Lake Clifton high school complex and at Baltimore City Community College for students on long-term suspension -- seems to be having a lot of success in changing kids' attitudes toward violence. Learn more about the program, funded in Baltimore through grants from the Open Society Institute and the Family League, here. Thanks to all the students enrolled in Street Soldiers who shared their stories with me.