How Safe Are Fulton City Schools?

Visitors are required to sign in at the main office

Visitors are required to sign in at the main office

FULTON, NY – All schools in the Fulton City School District have a buzzer system to allow entrance into the buildings to ensure the safety of their students and staff. But, just how effective is this system?

Oswego County Today’s Mikayla Kemp visited the schools to see for herself. The following is her report.

Fulton schools are equipped with a buzzer system.
Fulton schools are equipped with a buzzer system.

“I love my kid’s school. The teachers are great. But, safety is not as precise as they say,” said one Granby Elementary parent.

On her way to pick up her children from school, Tonya Hansson commented on the safety of her children’s elementary school.

While you do have to ring the buzzer to gain access to the school, once you’re inside, there’s no telling what you could do.

Tonya explained that there is a person sitting at a desk directly in front of the office upon entering the building.

This person is responsible for buzzing people in.

However, “I’ve bypassed her a few times because I was in a hurry” she confessed.

To test this theory, I buzzed the building to gain entrance. I was allowed in to the building, and walked right past the office and the front desk and even wandered the halls without being stopped.

“That shouldn’t happen,” said Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch. “We provide training to the people working these positions and it is frowned upon when they’re not following proper protocol.”

All six schools in the Fulton City School District, including four elementary schools, the middle school and the high school, are supposed to follow the buzzer system guidelines before granting anyone permission into the building.

The intended usage of the system is to have the incoming person ring the buzzer, they will then hear a voice over the intercom ask them their name, their purpose for entering and may even be asked to show photo ID before the door becomes unlocked.

Visitors are required to sign in at the main office
Visitors are required to sign in at the main office

When testing this system, only one school in the district correctly followed these guidelines.

At Fulton Junior High School, I was asked via the intercom, who I was and my purpose before being allowed in.

Upon entering the building, I immediately approached a desk and told the woman who I needed to speak with. I was asked to sign in and was directed to the office.

All four elementary schools required me to ring the buzzer as well.

However I did not need to say anything before the doors became unlocked.

Fairgrieve Elementary School seemed to have the next safest solution.

Rather than entering the school to a person sitting at a desk, you enter directly into the office and are required to speak with the office secretary and sign in before gaining entrance into any other part of the building.

Lanigan Elementary and Volney Elementary both allowed entrance into the school without asking, but required sign in at the front desk.

However, the schools differ in their sign-in protocol.

At Lanigan, you are required to sign in and are given a visitor pass filled out with your name, destination and time.

Regardless of your intended destination, you are sent directly to the office, which is visible from the front desk and you may be asked at any time in the school to present your visitor pass with correct corresponding information.

At Volney, the sign-in desk is not immediately upon entrance. Access to the gymnasium and the cafeteria are available before the sign-in desk.

I was given a visitor pass, but it was not filled out with any information.

Superintendent Lynch ensured that the cafeteria entrance and gymnasium entrance are visible by the front desk worker and it would then become their concern to approach the entering person if they were to bypass the desk to enter either of these areas.

“There are many layers of security,” he said, certifying that there are other protocols to follow once someone enters the building.

Lastly, I visited G. Ray Bodley High School.

Warning message posted
Warning message posted

At 1:30 p.m., I approached the school at entrance 9, the entrance outside the cafeteria and gymnasium.

At this time, the middle doors were unlocked and I was able to enter the building without seeing or speaking to anyone.

G. Ray Bodley’s main entrance has the buzzer system intact, which enters you directly to the attendance office where you are required to sign in to the building.

The remaining exterior doors do not have a buzzer system and instead have a sign requesting visitors sign in at the main entrance, as do the other five schools in the district.

Although the exterior doors are supposed to remain locked from the time students arrive at school, I was able to gain access during this time period.

Lynch noted that all exterior doors are to be locked when students arrive and are to remain locked and they have even implemented a card-reader system for staff so they are able to enter and exit through specific doors without leaving them unlocked.

These readers are available to staff before school begins and a few hours after school ends.

Despite the few uncertainties in the district’s buzzer system, the level of worry seems to remain relatively low.

The buzzer system seems to be doing the envisioned job as Lynch said, “It’s meeting its intended purpose. We’ve been pleased with the system we have.”