FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — A local school has been on lockdown twice in the last two months, but in both cases, they were false alarms.
New technology is partly to blame at Ridgeview Middle School in Sandy Springs.
Channel 2′s Bryan Mims was at the school Thursday with a look at how the new technology works and why some parents are concerned about it.
The problem involved new security badges that all Fulton County Schools employees wear. Each badge is the size of a credit card, and each has a button.
If a staff member pushes the button too many times, the school goes into lockdown.
The badge is a Centegix individual alert badge. School spokesman Brian Noyes wears one himself. If you push the button three times, it alerts the school’s security staff of a problem, like an injured student or a fight.
“We want to encourage them to use it when it’s necessary, but we all want to do it in an educated and appropriate manner,” Noyes said.
But twice in two weeks, someone at Ridgeview Charter Middle School mistakenly pressed the button eight times.
“If they press it eight times, then that will put the school or facility in a hard lockdown and will alert our Fulton County Police as well as local police,” Noyes said.
The school’s principal emailed parents, notifying them of the false alarms. In one case, an employee thought a student was hurt. He said that after determining the lockdown message was in error, he made an announcement to students and staff.
“But what happened is, when we do have an issue like this, when there’s an alarm that goes off, we learn from it,” Noyes said. “We review our process. We retrain employees and improve the overall safety of our district.”
Some parents are pleased with the new safety system, while others have concerns.
“I was kind of happy that they have something in place that if something serious were to happen, that the teachers all have this special button to press,” parent Joy Farnsworth said.
James Deluccia said the false alarms are scary.
“It’s unsettling to get the note, right, because your kid’s here, and then to learn it was also positive made me super concerned,” Deluccia said.
Deluccia said he likes the technology, he just wants to make sure the employees know how to use it.
In his email to parents, the principal of the school said all staff had a meeting this week to be retrained in the use of the badges.