Audit prompts review of Knox school security

Audit prompts review of Knox school security


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Schools officials agreed Monday night to a launch a comprehensive review of security in the next several days.

Security has been in the spotlight ever since an audit showed shortcomings with systems at Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre laid out a proposal for a comprehensive review of all of the Knox County school security systems.

The review, if approved by school board members, would cost $48,000 to look at all 88 schools in the county.

Phase one will begin this week and will take a look at the equipment at Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School, as well as 25 other schools in the county. Those 25 will be chosen at random for a total of three in each school board district.

The review would look at alarm systems, including the camera equipment and the keyless entry systems.

Phase two would take place over the summer and would check the additional 67 schools in the county.

A similar review was conducted last year, but Dr. McIntyre said he felt another check would affirm and reassure the community that the electronic security systems are functioning properly in light of the recent problems.

"I think it's useful and appropriate over a period of time and I'm confident that the review will show the system is working properly and hopefully that will give a level of reassurance to our stake holders and our public," Dr. McIntyre said.

McIntyre and school board members agree that the audit is only the first step in addressing security in Knox County Schools.

"My frustration has been that two weeks of focus has been on the security of a building, I don't want to discount that but my focus has got to be on what do we do for our kids while they're in school," said School Board Chair Karen Carson.

"We really need to turn the conversation from here to ensure we are doing everything for the safety of our students and the security of our schools," Dr. McIntyre said. "I would go back to as we begin the budget process for 2014 that we are talking about how do we have a current generation video system in each of our schools, how to we make sure we have a school access control strategy in every school and how do we ensure a school resource officer in each and every one of our schools."

During the security system review, the contractor will also take inventory to see which schools may need to have updated security systems.

Dr. McIntyre will hold a school safety summit on March 5 with Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones and Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch for a community forum centered on the security of the county's schools.

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