Natomas Unified moves on safety features for classroom doors

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By Jack Fedor, Natomas Pacific Pathways Preparatory

Aiming to strengthen student and staff safety, the Natomas Unified School District Board on Oct. 12 voted 5-0 to purchase new hardware that will make doors to classrooms and other spaces lockable from the inside.

The hardware will cost $314,396 and be purchased from Anixter Inc.. It will be installed in spaces around the district where doors currently cannot be locked from the interior. The cost is about $85,000 less than an initial estimate. 

“This is a direct action response to the board’s direction following our safety report and discussion,” said Natomas Unified superintendent Chris Evans. “There will be locking doors where teachers can lock them from the interior and that will be a district-wide shift.”

At the Sept. 28 board meeting, the board was given a presentation on district safety efforts, which included the use of doors which can be locked from inside. 

The presentation explained that two other local districts have already upgraded doors to be lockable from the inside and that around 700 doors in Natomas Unified schools would have to be upgraded to ensure all doors in the district had inside-lock hardware. 

Other security items which were mentioned during the presentation were an increased amount of fencing, security cameras and additional school resource officers.

Doors to be upgraded mostly have locks from before July 2011. That is when the Division of State Architect started requiring that all new door handles in school facilities be lockable from the inside, for spaces with occupancies of five or more people.

This interior door locking requirement was put into place by Assembly Bill 211, a law passed in 2010. 

Explaining the need for the requirement, AB 211 states, “Lockdowns are an effective tool that can be used on school campuses to facilitate the safety of pupils and staff during violent incidents” and that “the safety of school staff and pupils could be placed in jeopardy if school staff is required to go out into a hallway to lock doors during a violent incident.”