Wednesday, April 27, 2022 | 2 a.m.
New panic buttons are in place at Eldorado High School in the wake of a brutal attack on a teacher in her classroom earlier this month, Clark County School District officials said Tuesday.
Michael Wilson, director of CCSD’s office of emergency management, said contractors were at Eldorado all weekend getting the alert system in place. School staffers were trained on it and other urgent communications systems on Monday, he said. Testing of the new system is continuing.
Mark Campbell, CCSD’s interim chief of facilities, said the school district is now in the process of upgrading Eldorado’s surveillance cameras.
“We dealt with the immediacy at Eldo” Superintendent Jesus Jara said. “Our plan (is) to expand it swiftly.”
The new system is manufactured by Audio Enhancement, which also sells wearable microphones for teachers and offers a panic alert-type product that is integrated with the microphones.
Wilson would not say if the new alert method was wearable. He also declined to give specifics on the district’s procedures for responding to urgent calls for help, citing a state law allowing schools to keep their safety measures confidential.
“We don’t want those who would do harm to our students and our staff to be able to know how we will respond and what our procedures are,” Wilson said at a
news conference Tuesday at CCSD’s Student Services Division in southeast Las Vegas.
The district refers to panic buttons and other devices that staff might use to call for help in an emergency as the “instant alert system.” Procedures will be developed around any type of product such as wearable or handheld panic buttons, hardwired intercom systems, or telephones that speed-dial the school’s front office, said CCSD Police Chief Mike Blackeye.
Campbell said officials from facilities, emergency management, police and on-site administration are now reviewing and prioritizing schools across the district for potential security upgrades. A newly built school, for example, might not need any upgrades, he said.
CCSD has more than 350 schools, from Laughlin to Las Vegas to Mesquite, with enrollment ranging from a handful of pupils in rural elementary schoolhouses to 3,000 in high schools in the heart of the Las Vegas Valley.
Campbell said he couldn’t say yet if all schools would have the same alert systems.
“That will depend on the school, the design of the school and the right technology for the site,” he said.
A Sun analysis of CCSD Police data showed violence in the school district had been rising over the last several years.
Brawls, beatings and lockdowns caught on social media video with students as apparent aggressors against other students and staff took a hard turn this month with the assault at Eldorado. A 16-year-old student has been charged with 15 felonies, including sexual assault and attempted murder, in that case.
Three schools last Wednesday reported unrelated in-class assaults on teachers leading to arrests. Two of the students were reportedly armed, one with a kitchen knife and another with scissors.
Jara said violence in the schools “keeps me up every night.”
“There’s a crisis in the community that’s come into our schools,” he said. “We’re dealing with a crisis in the community, a crisis in the country.”
Blackeye has said that late spring has tended to be a peak time for misbehavior in schools. City police departments have placed officers on some campuses for additional “safety by presence,” and they will remain through the final four weeks of the year, he said.
Blackeye said parents should check in with their children.
“Ask them how they’re doing, what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. We think those types of questions from parents will help if your child is experiencing some trouble, and maybe it’ll stop some things that are planned in our schools,” he said. “Maybe they know of something that’s going to occur and they can help us by forwarding those types of plans.”