Security tightened at school district headquarters

skinney@keynoter.comAugust 31, 2013 

With a change put in place this week, visitors can no longer simply stroll into the Monroe County School District’s headquarters and visit with Superintendent Mark Porter and other district administrators.

Instead, visitors to the district’s Trumbo Point headquarters must check in with a gatekeeper and then be escorted to their destination, appointments preferred.

Porter, in an email to the Keynoter, said security at the A.J. Henriquez administration building “has been somewhat if not egregiously lax.”

“We are a public entity,” Porter continued, “and will continue to maintain [an] ‘open door’ policy, but with appropriate procedures and safeguards for students and employees.”

In support of the change, Porter said, “We are attempting to incorporate a single point of access into all of our school buildings and have made modifications as to facilities and procedures at many locations.”

He hadn’t responded by press time Friday to follow-up questions asking for details on those other operational changes.

Larry Murray, a former appointed member of the district’s Audit and Finance Committee and unsuccessful School Board District 3 candidate, noticed the new measures during a Monday visit to Trumbo Point.

“So much for casual and informal,” Murray said, interpreting the move as “circling the wagons.”

He questioned the single point of access concept, given the open-campus design of most Florida Keys public schools.

Porter pointed out the small alternative school Academic Connections for Excellence, formerly housed in the May Sands School on United Street, is now operating out of the district administrative building.

“For these reasons,” Porter said, “we have modified procedures regarding access throughout the building and now ask that all visitors check in at the front desk where they can be greeted and escorted by those they are coming to meet with.”

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