Sandy Hook Tragedy influences look at Meridian school security

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Artwork decorated a hallway of William Donley Elementary School

By Molly Mason
Merdian Times staff writer

A look at elementary school security in the Meridian Township shows that it is doing a good job protecting their young ones.

There are four elementary schools located in Meridian Township: Bennett Woods, Vera Ralya, Hiawatha and Murphy Elementary.  All the schools range from kindergarten to fourth grade.

The security procedures for the schools are all the same in Okemos and Haslett school districts.  The doors around the schools are locked, except for the front door of the school.  Once a visitor has entered through the front door, they go through the main office and check-in to receive a visitor’s identification tag.

A side door outside Murphy Elementary School.

A side door outside Murphy Elementary School.

Each school practices two lockdowns annually.  The Meridian Township Police Department provides feedback and suggestions for improvement and efficiency.

Meridian Police monitor all the elementary schools in the township, as well as William Donley Elementary in East Lansing School District.  Pam Smiadak, a substitute secretary at William Donley Elementary, said, “Meridian Police are very good at doing walk-throughs.”

Walk-throughs check each building’s safety features, but they also make the children feel safe and comfortable. Dr. Cathy Ash, Okemos Superintendent of Schools said, “Our children are very comfortable with seeing police around.”

Ash said that they share a great partnership with Meridian Police.  The department conducts one to two walk-throughs a week.

The main hallway at William Donley Elementary School.

The main hallway at William Donley Elementary School.

After the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary, school security became a concern for parents.  Ash said, “When something like Sandy Hook happens, that always heightens concern.  But we kept communication with the parents open.”

Smiadak said “School security was a concern right after the incident, but things have calmed down after the holiday season.  We’re more worried about the flu now.”

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