Olathe Public Schools to begin using novel security technology

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 9:40 PM CDT
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OLATHE, Kan. (KCTV) - When school starts next week in Olathe, staff will be trained on a new security technology that uses an ID-style badge to summon help with the press of a button.

A shooting at Olathe East High School in March left many parents and kids concerned. At a community meeting, some asked about metal detectors. The district opted against intrusive interventions like that.

Instead, they’ll be equipping all staff with something called CrisisAlert. At a presentation to the school board Thursday night, district administration said Director of Safety Services Brent Kiger actually started researching the product late last year. That was before the shooting.

It involves a badge meant to be worn beneath the staff ID badge daily. On one side is a recessed button. Pressing it three times summons administrators, school resource officers and school nurses with the exact location of the emergency. It could be a fight or a medical emergency.

Staff are being trained on the system now. The intention is to have them use it often, for incidents big and small.

“Whether a staff member themselves is having chest pains, they can hit the button three times and help’s on the way. Student gets hurt out on the playground, teacher can hit the button three times and help’s on the way,” said Assistant Superintendent for Safety Services Dr. Jim McMullen.

No more sending someone down the hall for help.

The system also has an option for triggering a lockdown. That involves pressing the button eight times. It sends an alert to all computer screens in the building, and triggers strobing lights in the hallways and a recorded announcement to lock doors, turn off lights and stay out of sight.

“This is really the first time we’re essentially empowering all of our staff members that if they see something of critical nature, a critical threat, they can notify everybody in the building - students and staff - that there’s a real threat here and we need to get behind a locked door,” said Kiger.

The board approved the expenditure earlier in the school year. The bulk of the funding is coming from a bond approved by voters in the spring. District Spokeswoman Becky Grubaugh said the district also secured a grant from the State Department of Education to offset some of the initial cost.

One board member said some staff members had concerns about being tracked. McMullen clarified that the tracking only kicks in when the button is pressed and the alert is active. He added that it only operates within school district buildings.