Minn. Schools Review Security After Conn. School Shooting

Updated: 01/23/2013 7:19 AM KSTP.com By: Maricella Miranda

Minnesota schools are busy reviewing their security procedures following last month's school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

The Lakeville School District is considering requiring school volunteers - including parents - to submit to background checks.

Other changes could include installing buzzers at the school front doors and extra security cameras. Lakeville officials plan to discuss security measures Monday night.

In Bloomington, school officials began taking a deeper look at school security following the Connecticut shooting. The review will include two phases.

The first phase will be a school and facility analysis to determine the perceived level of safety among staff, parents, school police officers and students. The second will be a safety and security audit by a school safety expert to identify vulnerabilities and threats.

"There is a concern in the community, certainly," said Jaclyn Swords, Bloomington school spokeswoman. "We are ramping up the efforts more than we would have."

Recommendations could lead to physical structural improvements and revisions to the district's current emergency response plan and training, according to the district.

Below are security policies at other metro schools:

- St. Paul Public Schools conduct background checks on volunteers if they're working unsupervised with students, such as on field trips and afterschool programs. Each school determines if their volunteers will be unsupervised. The policy was last changed in 2004.

St. Paul school officials say the requirements have mainly remained the same because of the large number of school volunteers and the high costs to perform background checks.

In St. Paul, schools pays a minimum of $15 for volunteer background checks. The volunteer checks include records from the BCA, the state's 87 counties, the sex offender registry and the national criminal database. More elaborate checks are performed on regular employees.

- South Washington County Schools revised its policy last April, requiring background checks for all employees, coaches and extracurricular advisors. The district also has the right to request background checks from any volunteer and service provider. The policy can be found here.

- Minneapolis Public Schools require background checks for any volunteer who will be working with students and is not under the constant supervision of a district staff member.

The district has a separate policy for volunteers that come from an organization, such as a business partner. Those volunteers must be certified as community partners by completing criminal background checks, and be insured by their organization or company.

The district, which reviews its volunteer policies every three years, is currently reviewing them, officials said. The district's volunteer policy can be found here. Its community partners policy can be found here.

- The Anoka-Hennepin School District performs background checks on high-level volunteers, such as chaperones for off-site field trips and retreats, those who handle money, and academic and extracurricular coaches.

- Orono Public Schools require background checks for some volunteers, including those participating in overnight field trips, volunteers who are alone with students and those working with students with special needs. Volunteers pay $24 for the checks. 

- The Rocori School District in Cold Spring, Minn., where a school shooting occurred in 2003, requests different checks for employees and volunteers. If volunteers are alone with students, they must submit to more elaborate background checks. Both groups pay for their own checks.

- The Minnesota BCA, which is a main source of information for background checks, says that any school employee who are in contact with children during work must have a background check.

The state law regarding school background checks can be found here.