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Security Expert 'Exceptionally Impressed' with Woodland District 50

National security expert Ken Trump visited Woodland School District 50 and Gurnee Elementary District 56 last week.

A recent security analysis performed in Woodland School District 50 may have resulted in high marks for the district's five schools, but that doesn't mean changes won't be made to enhance the security even further.

"Yes, we are very pleased with the affirmation," said Superintendent Joy Swoboda. She said it's good to know, from an outside perspective, that the security plan that's already in place is effective and "doing the job as we intended it to."

But, as Swoboda noted, "we are a district that's focused on continuous improvement" and changes could be made.

"It was fascinating," Swoboda said of the security analysis, performed by national security expert Ken Trump. "He is a brilliant man and extremely knowledgeable in this area. It really was beneficial for us. We received, verbally, over a dozen ideas to consider. We will be evaluating that and looking to make changes."

Trump evaluated the schools in both District 50 and Gurnee Elementary District 56.

Trump said he was "exceptionally impressed with both."

"It's refreshing for us," said Trump.

Even post-Sandy Hook, Trump said, he has visited schools across the nation that still have open doors around their buildings. Trump said some schools he's seen haven't performed basic security drills, there's absent supervision and security plans haven't been updated.

That was not the case in Districts 50 and 56, he said.

'Ahead of their Peers'

"Both of these districts are well ahead of their peers across the country," said Trump. "But they're also wise enough to know you can never be too good at it. They understand this is an ongoing process."

School security, Trump said, starts with the people—everyone from the district leaders to the teachers and custodians.

"The first thing we look at is, 'Do they get it?'" said Trump. "Is (school security) part of the forefront of their minds.

"The locks and the two-way radios, those will be issues you can go back and revisit over time, or there will be new needs or upgrades," said Trump. "The real issue is with the people. Some of the best security in a school is unseen. It's invisible."

District 50, for example, which includes parts of Grayslake and Libertyville, has performed staff trainings, has controlled-access in its buildings, uses two-way radios for enhanced communications, and holds unannounced drills.

An unannounced drill was held during Trump's visit at Woodland Elementary East and West, he said. The drill took place during lunch.

"There's nothing like looking at the face of a principal, especially during lunch, and saying, 'You're going into lockdown,'" said Trump.

Everyone performed well, Trump said. For example, Trump said he saw a custodian locate students who had gone to the bathroom and usher them to a secure location.

"We were extremely impressed with that," said Trump. "We saw adults step up."

Partnerships are Crucial

Trump was also impressed with the partnerships between Districts 50 and 56, and between those districts and the Gurnee Police Department.

"School safety is really about partnerships and relationships," said Trump.

Swoboda said she talks to District 56 Superintendent John Hutton every week. The two district leaders believe it's important to communicate for the benefit of having a common message and common procedures.

Swoboda is also proud of her district's relationship with the first responders—the Gurnee Police and Fire Departments.

marilyn February 18, 2013 at 12:37 PM
It's just a sales pitch. A good one, but still just a sales pitch. Of course there was a drill while he was there. the gushing and swooning is a little much, imo.
Angie February 18, 2013 at 03:27 PM
thank you dist 50 (& dist 56) for taking steps to keep our students as safe as possible. let's be positive and thankful!
Donny February 18, 2013 at 04:31 PM
That's nice, however one person with a gun will neutralize all that impressive security.
Jodie February 18, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Donny and Marilyn the school district is doing what the can to make the children and staff as safe as possible. Marilyn obviously has a hatred towards District 50, as I have seen her post negative remarks before about the district. Donny, these are children you are talking about let's not think like that.
Charles February 18, 2013 at 10:51 PM
@Jodie, you are right, these are children we are talking about and we damn well better start thinking like that security wise. Prepare for the worse and hope it never happens or never prepare and you'll be wondering why you didn't think ahead of time.
Northshore February 19, 2013 at 12:43 AM
If they're still a gun free zone they've immediately failed the "Security Test" swoboda is clueless!
Brian L. February 19, 2013 at 03:36 AM
I still don't understand why many feel the need to roll back to "third world" style security where there are guns everywhere. Where safety is "ensured" by fear in the populace, that if you step out of line you might be shot. We accept that bad things happen and try to limit the amount they may occur. To try and reduce car crashes and fatalities, we work on safety measures in cars and rules to allow everyone to drive on the road together. We try to stop plane crashes with inspections and new electronics and avionics. We don't end the threat of car crashes by potentially causing other car crashes, so why do we think that the threat of dying by gunfire is a good way to solve others dying by gunfire? I'm not trying to say that if we eradicate guns all violence will stop. I don't ride a unicorn and I don't live in a fantasy world where everyone is loving and happy, but if we accept certain risks in life and do our best to slim the chances of them occurring without potentially threatening others, why isn't gun violence treated the same?
Jodie February 19, 2013 at 04:27 AM
I work in the School District and I do not want to go to a school that has guns in it. I believe that everyone has the right to own guns, but I do not believe that guns have any place in our school. I do not live in fear that my children or I are going to be attacked in a school. I do not get in my car and think that I am going to get in a car accident. I think that random things happen when they do and you cannot control them. You can't control the actions of others, but the idea of purposely placing guns in our educational systems doesn't seem right. I would feel like I was in a lockdown situation every day. I think I would feel less safe, what if that gun got into the hands of the wrong person. Why do we need to have security gaurds or armed teachers in our classrooms? I wouldn't want to carry a gun into a classroom full or children. I do not carry my purse all day, I set it down. What if a child were to pick it up? We cannot put our children in a bubble and have them afraid of their own shadows. I won't raise my children in a world that there is danger around every corner. They know that bad things happen, but they will not be afraid to live their lives because of a few bad people.
Ed Brown February 21, 2013 at 03:54 AM
yep - exactly my thought Jodie.

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