Donna ISD implements additional security measure

Hafedh Azaiez

Donna Independent School District is adding another layer of security through electronic means at all campuses, following national school safety incidents.

The district is installing an E-Reader Video Door Keyless Entry System, which forces visitors to contact the front desk staff through an intercom at the entrance of schools. The staff member will verify the individual’s identity through a videophone and approve or deny access to the building, according to the school district website.

All visits will be recorded because the intercom is linked to the camera system.

Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez said no particular incident drove the district to add these measures, but noted the dangers schools face nationwide. That, he said, motivated officials to take a “proactive” approach.

“That’s our job, to make sure that our students are safe,” Azaiez said. “Once they are safe, we’ll provide them with the best educational opportunities.”

Security personnel are present at all of the campuses, with police officers patrolling the area.

“We have those layers of safety in place, and this would add another layer of security,” Azaiez said.

Seven elementary schools and 3D Academy currently have the technology installed and running, he said.

“The goal is, by the end of the fall, to have them installed in all 14 elementary campuses, and then transition to the middle school and high school campuses,” he said.

School officials see this as a boon to security to an already existing list of safety measures.

“The whole point of this keyless entry system is to give our school district an added layer of safety and security for our campuses,” Police Chief Daniel Walden said in a news release. “With everything that’s going on throughout the nation, we want to be proactive and not reactive. It just gives us a higher level of security for our students and staff where intruders are not able to get onto our campuses.”

Other school districts in the area have also dedicated funds in implementing new security measures, including cameras and personnel.

Donna ISD is also hoping to implement other safety measures in the future, including an app that acts as a two-way communication with the district and an individual who has concerns, Azaiez said.

“We want our community just to be patient as we are transitioning into (these) new systems,” Azaiez said. “I know that we also have to do our part to explain and educate… about these changes.”

“Ultimately, it will benefit all our students and staff to ensure (the) safety and security of everyone,” he added.