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Published: Tuesday, 12/18/2012

Blade staff tests security procedures at local schools



An unidentified woman approaches the front doors at the entrance to Wayne Trail Elementary in Maumee. An unidentified woman approaches the front doors at the entrance to Wayne Trail Elementary in Maumee.
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Blade reporters fanned out across the area today to gauge how easy it is for people to enter elementary schools. 

Schools throughout the country are reevaluating their security procedures after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Blade reporters attempted to find out firsthand if northwest Ohio schools allowed strangers to enter elementary schools; reporters in each instance identified themselves when asked and stated why they were at the school.

Most elementary schools visited by Blade staff this morning reacted in less aggressive manners. In some rural elementary schools in Wood and Hancock counties, doors were locked but school personnel buzzed the reporter in without asking who she was or why she was there. Protocol requires the school secretary or other employee to inquire before buzzing visitors in, but that doesn’t always happen, officials admit.

“Fortunately we know most of the people coming through, but still they should’ve asked,” said McComb Elementary Principal Teresa Kozarec.

At Sylvania's Maplewood Elementary School, the main school door is left unlocked throughout the day. Parents were observed walking through the front door without any problems, although a second, inside door in the entryway does require school staff to unlock it, before parents enter that part of the school. But visitors can go into the first door of the building without stating who they are, or why they are visiting the building.

In the Perrysburg district, school entry doors are locked after students are admitted in the morning and are monitored by video feed viewed by office personnel. There is bell button and a two-way intercom system at the main entrance, and staff can remotely unlock the door for a visitor.

A Blade reporter and photographer were briefly questioned today by Maumee police after they visited a Maumee City School unannounced.

The reporter and photographer in Maumee visited Wayne Trail Elementary, 1147 Seventh St., and were buzzed in by school staff. While they were interviewing the school's principal, a district employee called police, apparently telling them that the pair had tried to breach the school's security.

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