The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

DVC vulnerable in case of a school shooting

With the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings looming, English professor Bruce Reeves took his concerns about school safety to the district governing board.

Like all other DVC instructors, Reeves teaches in a classroom that can only be locked from the outside and for which he has no key.

“It’s hard to practice a lockdown if you have no locks,” he told trustees during the public comment section at the March 26 meeting. “That’s the situation at DVC.”

The 18 seconds of silence that followed his remarks were finally broken by district Chancellor Helen Benjamin, who later said money is set aside for a warning siren at DVC. Locks on classroom doors, she added, would be “a good idea.”

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The district designated a district police officer as its full-time “emergency service coordinator” in July 2007. But campus safety – particularly how to protect students from a shooter roaming the campus – is still a work in progress.

Officer Teddy Terstegge, the emergency services coordinator, said the district plans to install a warning siren on the DVC campus, along with an SMS-based text message warning system.

DVC classrooms do not have telephones that link faculty to a central switchboard, as the case in most California K-12 schools.

The SMS-based warning system would send text messages to all cell phones in a certain area, Terstegge said.

“After Virginia Tech, everyone, including the public, became aware that a shooting incident like that could occur anywhere,” he said. “It’s important to alert people to hazards they may experience in an area.”

Terstegge said the police services department is currently working with the County to complete the paperwork necessary for the implementation of the siren. The paperwork will then be submitted to the Department of State Architecture for approval.

But even with a warning system in place, there is still the problem of securing classrooms that faculty cannot lock.

An 81-page, “Immediate Action and Event Specific Checklists (August 2007) – available on the district’s website – calls for faculty and staff to “lock or barricade windows and doors” in the event of a campus shooting.

Guy Grace, DVC’s buildings and grounds manager, estimated last week it would cost about $400 per lock to buy and install double-cylinder locks that could secure doors from inside or outside the classroom.

The job could be completed campus-wide in as soon as three months, he said.

DVC President Judy Walters said there has been no discussion about installing locks on classroom doors.

“I would want to have a very thoughtful conversation with people before I would institute something like that,” she said.

Although Reeves said later his fears have been assuaged, he warned of the consequences of inaction.

“If we don’t establish an effective warning system, there’s a consequence,” he said. “Some students won’t live to succeed.

“DVC, the district, the educational community need to adapt to this new world quickly.”

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DVC vulnerable in case of a school shooting