Security, Safety Measures Increased, Officials Say

Article excerpt

Ferguson-Florissant school officials say they're doing their best to ensure students are safe, following the death last month of Christine Smetzer.

"The district has always made safety and security a prime responsibility," Superintendent C. Robert Fritz said last week.

Smetzer, 15, was found beaten to death on Jan. 24 in a bathroom at McCluer North High School. Her alleged killer, also a 15-year-old freshman, was a Special School District student with behavior problems who had transferred to the school the day before the murder.

In response to concerns of district parents, Fritz announced that the district has instituted several new safety procedures. First, McCluer North has added two security guards and one roving counselor. Secondary schools will get six more security guards. By March 1, students and staff members will have ID badges, which they must present upon request.

Fritz said the district will also:

Enforce hall-pass restrictions.

Install video cameras in remote locations.

Lock low-traffic doors and isolated bathrooms during off-hours.

Provide grief counseling for students, as needed, through St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Fritz said administrators also have set up a safety committee to fine-tune security measures. He added that his office plans to review attendance reporting procedures as well as guidelines for placing students with behavior disorders.

Last week, Fritz and other School Board members talked with parents about the difficulties the district has faced in trying to answer questions in the aftermath of the killing. …