Hands Behind Your Back


Luke Kirtley

Officer Mike Defferari checks the campus entrance camera footage. Ongoing security measures are a priority to the officers and staffers on campus.

Sixteen-year-old Brenda Spencer extended her arm out the window from her home across the street from an elementary school, semi-automatic rifle in hand, firing 30 rounds. Two of her many bullets shattered the lives of two men, sending them to their early graves. Eight children were killed and nine playing children were injured, scars tracing their bodies as a reminder of the event from winter 1979. As for Spencer, she remains alive but in prison.

Even now, constant threats of people repeating this act of violence spread on social media platforms and through word of mouth.

Catastrophe also lurks closer to home. Recently a student at Klein ISD student had gained attention from the authorities by threatening to kill a staff member, among other violent claims. And in this case, the student has been arrested.

Situations like these do not go ignored.  In an effort to keep kids safe, the administration and staff at Klein Oak takes situations like these as lessons.

Multiple procedures have been established in favor of keeping students safe. Emergency Response and Reverse Evacuation Plans, as well as the implementation of access control systems, are just a few of the protective measures placed upon our campus.

“We have a safety committee comprised of teachers, counselors and KO support staff. The committee regularly meets to discuss our current safety practices as well as student and staff concerns,” Jason Anderson, the assistant principal responsible for safety and security, security cameras, and metal detectors, said.

Some safety features are more recent than others. Debbie Russell, a Child Development Supervisor, said that earlier in her career, police officers and security cameras were not even a necessary precaution, but as the years continued, they became more prominent.

“We didn’t used to have police officers in our buildings, but due to the way that the world has become, unfortunately, that’s a necessary safety feature that we have,” Russell said.

Russell also described her own experience with safety, saying she had seen a man dressed in black standing outside one day, and had called the front office out of concern. Regardless of her suspicion being a false alarm, it shows that safety is beyond gun violence, with physical assault and robbery also being common hazards.

The rate of violence is changing. Recent studies have shown that the Texas average of violent crimes is increasing from its position already above the national average. American schools have faced a calculated total of 3380 threats in the last school year, an increase from earlier years.

Within a campus holding more 3500 students, and PASA Projections indicating that Klein Oak will grow to become the second largest school in Klein ISD by 2028, campus safety technologies may be vital to prevent threats from coming to life.

“I think they’re a deterrence to situations where students might think twice before doing something,” Deborah Carpenter, an English IV teacher, said.

I think they’re a deterrence to situations where students might think twice before doing something,

— Deborah Carpenter

In addition to the obvious visual precautions, Klein ISD mandates routine evacuation and bomb threat drills. Anderson said that while there is a mandated amount of drills, Klein Oak exceeds that minimum.

“Realistically, in a crisis situation like that, I feel like the drills won’t matter; it’ll only be quick thinking. It’s not like someone’s watching every camera at every moment,” sophomore Kevin Kim said. Despite the criticism, he said, “The school is doing their best.”

Of all the instated defenses, Klein Oak has not armed teachers. Klein ISD’s website states in Klein Oak’s case, it is unnecessary. Anderson said that with consistent training and collaboration with the Klein ISD Police Department, Klein Oak’s three police officers can efficiently protect the campus.

“Outside of school, teachers – if you carry a gun that’s fine – the only people in the school premises who has a gun should be officers,” Carter Samuel said.

With all the regulations in place, faculty and students can be assured that they are kept safe within Klein Oak. Even if violence is a growing issue and security cameras are not always monitored, Klein ISD and Klein Oak are constantly improving to meet the safety needs of a school.