Editorial - Dennis-Yarmouth Flunks School Security

School security is only as strong as its weakest link...

Last Tuesday, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School flunked school security. 

On that day, staff members admitted into the school a reportedly injured 23-year-old man with special needs.  Once he got inside the building, it is alleged that he ran from school staff and ended up attacking a 15-year-old girl in a ladies' room.

Yarmouth Police have charged the subject with trespassing on school grounds and assault and battery of the young girl.

The story evolved that the young man, a former student at the school, appeared on school grounds Tuesday morning and appeared to have a bleeding cut on his hand.  School staff recognized him, though there is confusion over whether they thought he was still a student at the school.  He was brought into the secure building in order to have the school nurse look at his apparent injury.  Police later determined that the subject had walked away from a nearby group home operated by Cape Abilities.

In recent years our schools have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make their buildings more secure.  Indeed, the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District just received a $60,000 state grant to improve security.  However, those security systems are only as effective as the school staff behind them.  If school staff fail, the children are endangered.

From security doors, to surveillance, to staff training - school staff are supposed to know the protocols of school security.  That training went out the window Tuesday morning when a staff member admitted the alleged attacker into the building, turning him loose in a building full of innocent kids.

Worse yet, when the subject allegedly ran from school staff nobody called a lockdown.

The Weakest Link

Police have been telling us for years that a school security program is only as good as its weakest link.  In DY High School the administration knows who the weak link is.  They have not named the staffer that invited the alleged attacker inside - but that person is your weak link. 

In our opinion that staffer should be fired immediately - and shame on the district if they don't have the moral courage to wield the axe.  This was not a "teachable moment" as some might say.  It was a catastrophic failure.  Thank Heaven that an alert teacher and student intervened when they heard the victim's outcry!

The DY incident also provides a road map for future school attackers - show up on campus with an injury and ask staff for help.  Some dunce with good intentions will probably invite you inside!  You know what they say about the road to Hell...

This is not the first time this year that we've seen school staff negligence place children at risk.  In the final months of Cape Cod Child Development, there was an incident where a child ran from the school - through an alarmed door that staff had reportedly disabled because the alarm was chirping a low battery signal.

Indeed, security is fairly lax in many of the Cape's schools.  If you ring the front door bell at most Cape schools, you'll probably be buzzed in without greeting or challenge.    Yes, the signs say "visitors must report to the office" - but once you're inside the school who knows what mischief you might commit?

Then we come to Cape Abilities... 

And then we have Cape Abilities, whose client reportedly walked away from the group home during the summer and twice invaded a neighbor's home. Tuesday he walked away again with resulting mayhem at DYRHS. 

Cape Abilities has a lot of explaining to do.  CCToday will be in contact with the agencies charged with investigating Cape Abilities' performance in these incidents and will bring you those reports as they are completed. 

Meanwhile, we urge neighbors of Cape Abilities' group homes to keep their doors locked and their eyes open.

What's next?

Our next editorial will introduce some questions you should ask your school district about their security programs.

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