Schools Tighten Security

Summer's over and there's something new in the curriculum this fall. After a string of deadly shootings, schools across the U.S. are getting serious about tightening security. CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart has the report for "Eye On America."


Ever since Columbine, U.S. schools have been scrambling to plan for the unthinkable. Many, mostly the affluent, are literally buying more safety by installing $5,000 metal detectors along with surveillance cameras and even motion sensors.

But what do you do if you don't come from a rich school district and you can't afford the latest in security technology? That's certainly the case in the rural district of Iberville Parish, Louisiana, and in hundreds of others nationwide as well.

CBS News discovered that a patchwork strategy is starting to evolve and many have one thing in common: the grownups are starting to take control of the schools again, and they're imposing strict grownup controls.




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It goes beyond inviting SWAT teams to practice in their schools, even beyond the new rule here in Louisiana of requiring students to say "Yes, Sir" and "No, Ma'am" to teachers.

Some schools are even considering ripping out the lockers so students won't have a place to hide weapons. Others have ordered students to wear only mesh back-packs so that security guards can see what's inside.

Prison terms for making bomb threats have been approved. Uniforms are now standard in many places and flapping shirttails are forbidden because who knows what's hidden underneath.

"It certainly does help with security because as long as shirts are tucked in and they don't have those big pants on, then they can't bring weapons on campus," said Carolyn Morris, principal of Scotland Middle School.

She should know. Last spring an expelled student returned with a gun and shot one of her students, Ashley Baltazar, in the face. She's still recovering.

"I was crying. I was praying and the Lord heard my prayers, so I'm all rght," said Baltazar.

It was about that time that Sandra Ezell was asked to come up with a security plan for Louisiana schools, and what she found was scary.

Ezell said, "I started asking 'What do you have in place for a crisis situation? What are you going to do to address a bomb situation? What are you doing to address a gun or hostage?' Well, we really hope that doesn't happen in our school."

"Look at Kentucky. Look at Mississippi. Look at Arkansas. They hoped it didn't come there either. But it did," she added.

So where others put their faith in technology, Ezell has put hers in the SWAT team. Besides, she says, it's about all they can afford.

"It doesn't take that long to involve law enforcement. It doesn't take that much time to get those crisis teams trainedÂ…because you never know when it's going to happen," said Ezell.

And in American schools today you just never know where, either.

Part 2: Crackdown On 'Troublemakers'
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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