Student suspended for politely holding door open

An "A" student at a Virginia middle school was given a one-day suspension for holding open a door for a known adult who had her hands full. This violated the school security policy, which holds that the doors may only be opened centrally after visitors are vetted by a CCTV camera. Superintendant Charles Turner explained, "You have to have a system, and that system has to be consistent. We have to stay within the rules and stay secure."

But as Lenore Skenazy writes on the Free Range Kids blog, "what the school fails to understand is that the student was an even BETTER security system! The student has a heart, a brain and hands. This incredible carbon-based security system can open the door when that makes sense!"

According to an anonymous e-mail sent to The Tidewater News, the "A" student opened the door for a woman he knew, who had her hands full. The e-mail also indicated the student received a one-day, out-of-school suspension.

Smith said he could not confirm the story for confidentiality reasons. Superintendent Charles Turner said he did not know all the details behind the suspension.

Turner said the policy that prohibits anyone from opening doors was part of making the security system work.

Middle school student suspended for opening door (via Free Range Kids)

(Image: coin school doors, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from pandora_6666's photostream)


    1. I live in canada and every single school here has an open door policy with a sign that says. VISITORS MUST REPORT TO THE OFFICE.. wether or not they do is up to them but locking doors isn’t going to prove anything. If someone really wants to get in fora shooting or teft or whatever fuc*ing else they will just do it anyways. Theyres plenty of ways into the school. We kept our windows and doors open all the time just to cool down. USA is fuc*ed man YOUR ALL DOOMED!!!!

  1. This incredible carbon-based security system can open the door when that makes sense!

    Uhh, anyone involved with security knows that the human is almost always the weakest part.

    It’s easy social engineering, just walk up to the door carrying a lot, free entrance. I think suspension was a bit much, but the policy in general is sound.

    1. I agree. Also, the student wouldn’t have timely information – like if a teacher was just fired and not allowed on the premises. Suspension is ridiculous though.

      Why in the world would they put students in any role of security where they have to try to force a door closed on full sized adults? If entry is such a serious problem at this location, then have staff at the door.

      1. Yep, imagine if that teacher had been just fired and wasn’t allowed on the premises, and *she* *got* *in*! Clearly this is a threat that schools must be defended against at all costs! Because that teacher could, um, you know, um, steal paperclips or something…

    2. > opened the door for a woman he knew

      As well, security violations are generally performed by people authorized to have access. Most school shootings are committed by people authorized to be there (Columbine, Kent State).

    3. You are missing the key point that the child knew the adult concerned. Whilst security and surveillance systems are at least in part designed to respond to a supposed decline in social trust and an inceased ‘threat’ (which BTW, is very poorly supported by evidence anyway), there is good reason to suppose that placing what were previously matters of social negotiation into the hands of ‘systems’, ‘rules’ and ‘technology’ further damages social trust…

      …as anybody who studies these things knows. ;)

      1. It’s a vicious circle; lack of trust-> secure with technology; secure with technology->lack of trust. But somebody else brought up human lack of realtime update. The “A” student may have know the person but did not know exactly what kind of state this person was in at the time(maybe my view is due to my lack of trust, brought on by technological security).

    4. A policy “do not open the door for people you do not know” make may sense in some circumstances. That such a policy i actually needed at a school… well, it’s your country, I’ll leave it at that.

      A policy punishing a student to let in an authorised person is just stupid.

    5. I work designing security / surveillance systems, and any reasonable designed system -for a school- would not rely merely on a passive camera to visually allow door opening. It’s preposterous to think that a system is designed so that kids are a breaking point, and the solution to that break point is the threat of suspension. There’s many different ways to provide a security building using technology.

      1. The tip is funding it. Schools have security guards already there on payroll. a CCTV setup isn’t terribly expensive for most places and can be justified under the umbrella of vandalism prevention for the monitors and wiring; start chucking keycard doors then you have to buy the cards, the card scanners, the wired doors, override, card imprinter, replacing the cards, etc.

        You can’t get a bond in most places to buy accurate textbooks. The fact that they got this much security is either owed to post Columbine fright or Patriot Act/Fed money.

  2. I applaud this effort to squelch optimism from our youth. Too many kids grow up thinking they can have a positive effect on our world, the sooner they learn they are just a cog on a gear, the sooner they can start paying taxes and stocking up on credit card debt.

    1. Yes, that’s what’s central here. No regard whatever for the actual consequences of their mindless posturing. People will argue forever about the bullshit regulations, but virtually nobody will consider what the kids are taking away from it.

  3. Holding a door open is the kind of behavior we should promote in Middle School students, not punish. I think mindless bureaucrat Charles Turner should be suspended, not the student. What should the kid have done, slammed the door in her face? Yikes!

  4. Rob, you are missing the fact that the student knew the adult in question.
    Had the student held the door for a random stranger, things might be a little different.

  5. Another proof that schools are nothing but jails. Their purpose is not to educate, it is to keep youth away from the rest of the population, until they are formated into the system.

  6. I went to a small private highschool so we flew under the weather of all this zero tolerance craziness but I held countless doors open for strangers. Front doors, side doors, and back doors and never an issue.

  7. I’m a tad concerned by the emphasis on it being an “A” student. As if suspending a “D” student for this would have been okay, but that it should happen to an “A” student is completely unacceptable.

    “D” students also are people.

  8. I keep getting shouted down on here for suggesting Eugenics to cull out the dummies. It would fix this situation. Stupid, heartless superintendents get weeded out, while smart, kind, up-and-coming youth get to reproduce.

    1. awjtawjt, Eugenics got a bad name from Herr Hitler. That’s why people shout you down.

      I agree that it’s not good to teach kids too early that they are merely a cog in the wheel – it kills optimism and innovation.

      However, it can also be argued that it is harmful to be unaware of the fact that stupid people will lord it over any signs of intelligence in their future lives. Forewarned is … prepared.

    2. If Eugenics get applied according to current standards, the most intelligent people will get weeded out so we won’t have to put up with their annoying habits of questioning policies and otherwise rocking the boat any longer.

  9. If someone was watching the student then someone was obviously aware of what was going on and if it was a dangerous situation then they would have called the cops or 911.

    This might be an attempt to get rid off the student for political reasons or for a personal agenda against him.

    There is no plausible reason to suspend someone based on the current scenario unless he has a previous history of misdemeanors.

    I believe the extreme exaggeration at which the situation was escalated to warrants more concern on the facilitators and governance of that school body than the kid himself. I certainly would not regard that school as an academic institution that I would send my kids to.

  10. This reminds me of a time in middle school when our class was our class was being loud and unruly so the teacher threatened that the next student who spoke would receive a detention. Silence ensued. Some moments later somebody sneeze and unthinking I said “gesundheit” as I always did. The teacher promptly gave me a detention (who had never had a detention otherwise).

    Luckily for me that teacher was not a robot so when others came forward to offer that I indeed ALWAYS said “gesundheit” and was not just “being a trouble maker” the teacher rescinded the detention. Lucky for me….

  11. Knowing the person doesn’t equate to knowing their current status in the organization. For all the kid knows the woman was fired the previous day and was using the classic tailgating tactic of “my hands are full, please hold the secure door open so I can pass through without using any credentials.”

    I don’t know that the kid should have been suspended, but holding a door open is one of the weakest links in physical security. And if their are no consequences for doing it then the problem will persist.

    1. By that logic I should assume that “for all I know” someone that I’ve known for years underwent a psychotic breakdown last night and I should beat them down in pre-emptive self-defense if they start walking towards me.

      1. Well, to be fair, “Someone I’ve have known for years” is not the type of relationship middle school students would typically have with staff.

        What about a friend’s parent a child knows? Should they let them in? Maybe there is a custody battle underway, and the parent is no longer allowed access to the child. You really want to put a student in the path of this?

        Student’s fault? No. Letting piggy backing in, well, the system should not be set up to make that even possible.

        It would be nice if schools everywhere could have unlocked doors, but there are many valid reasons to restrict access in some cases.

        In some areas, you would have transient people coming with ill intent: stealing stuff, sleeping, causing general trouble.

    2. Which just brings up the question, why does a school have physical security to begin with?

      It’s not a classified research facility, it’s a school. Most of us here probably went through elementary school thinking all a door was good for is keeping the cold out. It wasn’t locked, it didn’t have CCTV cameras pointed at it.. you could come and go as you needed to (ignoring for the moment the eventual punishment handed out by your teacher for skipping class).

      Schools should be open environments. If it’s gotten to the point that you either have to lock kids in or lock bad people out, we should be examining that rather than whether holding the door open is a security violation.

      1. Actually, depending on the location? There can be solid reasoning. A relative of mine works for a school district in Texas where they need to be on guard for Gang Members who are NOT students, coming in to shoot students in retaliation for gang issues.

        I don’t know the Virginia area in question, so I cannot speak to how wise the overall policy is, but zero-tolerance policies are just stupid.

        Any word, I wonder, on the kid who cannot attend school because the school won’t let him take his meds?

        1. I used to deliver for FedEX Ground in this area and, in fact, to this school. This place, without talking down about them, is what we call “podunk”. The only thing in the area of this school is the high school and the elementary school. The only other thing in this area is fields of trees and weeds. No gang problems, no roving serial killers. Do I think they need to forget the idea of security because they are in the middle of nowhere? Of course not. This, however, is ridiculous. The only thing you need to get past their security is the standard “uniform and a clipboard.”

  12. This is what you get when you have mindless laws and enforce them. “Zero tolerance” also means zero tolerance for common sense and anyone using their brain.

    Of course these laws were rammed down the school’s throat by activists and parents who want to pretend that bad things should never happen. Then the specter of lawyers with lawsuits drives people to even further heights of madness. Solution, eliminate most grounds for lawsuits and tell the parents and activists to go somewhere else.

  13. Later in life while working a service industry job that “A” student will state to a paying customer, “I’m sorry that’s not my job. You will have to speak with _____ for service.”

  14. Actually the fact that this was an “A” student makes the punishment less bad. A “D” student would have more trouble catching up on a day of missed class; an “A” student will be fine.

  15. How did the kid open the door? Did s/he have a card or key or something?

    Why didn’t the TSA security at the school’s entrance check this person’s credentials? Obviously, we need more security in our schools as well. Did they go over entrance procedures with this student?

    I sometimes work in secure areas, and will hold open the door for PEOPLE I KNOW that are allowed in. Otherwise, I escort them to the front desk.

    1. Obviously the kids need to able to get out in an emergency. So anybody on the inside should be able to open the doors without a buzz from the CCTV minder.

  16. surely the adult should have been punished for violating the policy as they were the most responsible person at the time.
    they should have told the student to close the door and respect procedure.

    but then maybe they were a parent or something

    obviously its all the punishments would be crazy but you know just cos your used to punishing the kids doesn’t mean its always there fault

  17. I love all the support here for this broken policy. And we wonder why we’re sliding into a police state. You’ll go along with policies that, on the surface make sense, but in practice are just gate tests filtering out the compliant from those who will think critically and act accordingly.

    Sure, there was a one in a million chance that this familiar person could have had their hands full of explosives and their head full of murderous rage. reacting to the 1% outlier possibilities is ridiculous for reasons this story illustrates: this kid has learned a lesson, but it’s the opposite one intended. He’s learned that blindly following the rules is preferable to thinking for himself and being polite to someone he knows. Maybe next time, he’ll be the callous tool of authority some people think he already should be. It won’t have made the world any safer, just ensured that one less person will question authority.

  18. The point should be that a CCTV system and other security protocols to vet entry into a school should work as SUPPLEMENTAL layers that do not require everyday activity to be interfered with. If a failure occurs, it’s not because a kid was keeping a door open but because the security system failed to anticipate an ordinary scenario.

    but yeah, punitive measures for this situation is something even Nazis and Al Qaeda wouldn’t have done.

  19. “what the school fails to understand is that the student was an even BETTER security system! The student has a heart, a brain and hands. This incredible carbon-based security system can open the door when that makes sense!”

    Are you fucking kidding me? Adults with proper training and incentive are damn stupid a lot of the time, but we should trust little kids to discern who the predators or other kinds of dangerous wackos are?

    If that were true then you’d hardly need to spend any effort warning your kids not to leg off with strangers in white windowless vans, would you?

    1. No, we are not supposed to build our world around the premise that it is full of predators and other dangerous wackos when in fact the probability of encountering a wacko is less than the chance of getting hit by lightning many times in a row.

      Look at our reaction to terrorists. The increase in my chance of dying from clogged arteries is far far greater than the chance of dying from a terrorist, yet I see no government agents patting us down for donuts to protect us from the greater threat.

      1. There is a lot of latitude between the often pointless screening the TSA does and keeping people out of a school that have no business there. It isn’t even an apples and oranges situation unless you can show me where people who have legitimate business have been denied access to a school with these precautions for no reason other than questioning the security measures alone as is the case with a lot of the gripes with the TSA system.

        I have plenty of complaints about what seem to be the daily march towards totalitarian control over minor variations among schoolchildren (like kids getting suspended for having aspirin or Midol or their off-campus activity like blogging, etc) but most folks accept that schools usually have to have some kind of security, and having that security at least casually check the identity of people coming into their zone of observations is has a very small cost to benefit, unlike the TSA keeping breastmilk off the plane.

        I’m 39, not old but not terribly young either. I grew up in a very urban but somewhat homogeneous community (Portland, OR). Adults coming on to campus (even parents) during school hours had to check in with the office. I’d really be surprised to hear that this isn’t the case with everyone else here. The only real difference is that this school, and others like it, actually seem to enforce the policy.

        Yes your kid will more likely be the victim of a non-stranger, possibly even electrical storms but the issue has to be “What can we avoid at a reasonable cost to convenience and economy?” You’re also more likely to get an injury from driving than walking, but we reconcile the convenience of driving (well I don’t have to I still live downtown) against the dramatically increased risk.

        anyone who says “It’s not worth telling my kid not to fuck off with strange people because lightning is more likely to harm them and I can’t really prevent that!” is a fucking moron because it takes almost no effort to tell your kid “Don’t get in the van. Don’t take candy from clowns with bloody clown-pants.” but the effort to prevent a lightning strike amounts to sealing your kid in a rubber insulated box for life.

        What is also surprising is that here on BB where folks freak the hell out over anything that is even tepid on the right to own firearms people want to jump all over my gooch and show their internet PhDs in statistics supporting their thesis that kids are super safe compared to this or that but having a pistol or a semiautomatic rifle within three miles is a goddamn death trap.

    2. “we should trust little kids to discern who the predators or other kinds of dangerous wackos are?”

      No, we just tell them that its about .1% of all people and that probably includes their principle, gym teacher, the parents of the bully, and members of the clergy.

      Everyone else is likely just fine.

    3. “If that were true then you’d hardly need to spend any effort warning your kids not to leg off with strangers in white windowless vans, would you?”

      And you do, in fact, need to spend hardly any effort on that. At least, that was my experience as a kid, growing up in a major city.

    4. “If that were true then you’d hardly need to spend any effort warning your kids not to leg off with strangers in white windowless vans, would you?”

      You don’t need to, nor should you, spend any time doing this at all. Two reasons:

      1) “Stranger Danger” is so vanishingly trivial that effort in protecting against it is completely wasted. Kids are molested, hurt and murdered by people they know. Mostly by their parents. You’d be better off spending effort in improving their diets, exoercise, sense of adventure and enhancing their general feeling of wellbeing and safety. It hurts kids to tell them that they are in mortal danger at every turn, and to shuffle them through the world in cotton wool.

      2) There are plenty of people out there who are already ruining childhoods by making kids scared. Out ten year-old won’t go to the front gate by himself because he’s sure that a “bad guy” will abduct and murder him. It is fucking tragic. He didn’t get it from us, and there is no amount of reassurance that seems to work. Kids don’t understand statistics.

      1. Winkybb you said it!

        That is the hidden cost of all this enforced paranoia. Our children are growing up afraid of their own shadows. I let my kids walk just under a mile to the library and two different people we knew called us in terror to tell us our kids were “wandering the streets in danger”.
        We live in an upscale suburban neighborhood and I have never even heard of any trouble in our neighborhood. Yet a one mile walk on a sidewalk in broad daylight is too dangerous…

        When I was a kid our parent’s sent us out after breakfast and didn’t expect us back until dinner. I turned out fine (and independent).

      2. You leave no room in your argument for the lack of “Stranger Danger” having anything to do with the decades of ingrained warnings we’ve been inundated with.

        Cholera hasn’t been a real problem for quite a while either, guess we don’t have to inoculate anymore. When was the last time you knew someone who lost a foot to tetanus? There is one less booster I’ve got to worry about.

  20. The point is that we should be teaching our children to blindly follow the rules, not learn to make judgment calls for themselves, synthesizing from the available sources of information. And they should be learning that taking a second to help others only hurts you in the end. Bravo Virginia schools!

  21. Its amazing our kids aren’t the brightest in the world what whith the best school/prison system 3rd rate administrators can dream up.

    Guess what, kids have no respect for security theater either!

    Put kids in a place with a goal of making them smarter and ask them to act like morons all so we can avoid that 1 in 100,000 event that we can’t actually stop anyway.

  22. The student may have known the person, however there is no system in place to make certain that he is fully up to date on the “status” of that person.

    At my university a professor was fired with emidate effect when it was discovered that she had applied for, and accepted a post at a different university. They sent guards to her lab to secure all the assets that where legally owned by the university, but would most likely have been cleaned out by her if she had the chance.

    For all he knew, this could have been that professor.

  23. The problem here isn’t that the school has a policy against students holding the door open. The problem is that the punishment was completely disproportionate to the offense. Pull the kid aside in the hallway for a little conference about it, and the problem is solved. If the kid lets somebody else in the next day, maybe you escalate the intervention to lunchtime detention or something.

  24. In a perfect world the superintendent will be chased by rabid dogs to the door as the students enter and close it in his face. Sorry man can’t let you in, you know security and all. If only I was allowed to let you enter because I know who you are but alas, you must suffer the consequence of your robot like policies. Discretion and intelligent decision making, definitely something not taught or even found in public schools any longer.

  25. If that were true then you’d hardly need to spend any effort warning your kids not to leg off with strangers in white windowless vans, would you?

    I HARDLY do warn my kids not to leg off with strangers in white windowless vans– the majority of crimes against children are performed by people the children KNOW. And it is my responsibilty as a parent to vet those people and make sure my child’s uncle isn’t a pedophile, not worry about one in a random van.

    As for the problem at hand, Zero Tolerance is the downfall of society as we know it. If the administration wanted to do something, they should have spoken to the kid, not suspended him.

  26. Kid broke the school rules. Kid was punished.

    Perhaps, at this school, this is a serious offense?

    Looks like another Boing Boing non-issue to me…

    1. …It’s not so much as getting punished for doing something against the rules as it is the fact that the rules are so fucked up that they assume that students are experts at keeping people out and being total jackasses in the process. And when you dare to give somebody a hand, you get punished way out of proportion for such a damn minor infraction. The fact that they assume that everybody that wants to get inside must be evil by default if they don’t have their access cards ready to go.

      1. And when you dare to give somebody a hand, you get punished way out of proportion for such a damn minor infraction.

        Apparently this was not a minor infraction?

        I dunno, and maybe it’s just me, but I feel pretty comfortable letting a school decide what security system best suits their needs? And rule set supporting this system seems pretty reasonable to me.

  27. I’d just like to point out that here in the UK any sort of door-entry security system in a school is very rare.

    It doesn’t seem to be a problem here. I wonder what people are frightened of. Of course, different country, different circumstances. But even so.

  28. The powers that be missed a real opportunity to actually teach this kid something. Have a talk with him, point out why we can’t hold the door open for people, why everyone has to get checked, ect..

    It might seem a little redundant, but if this is an “A” student I’m sure he could see the logic in what the security is trying to achieve.

    But either way, when you need metal detectors, card key access, and crap like this to “keep the kids safe” the system is already broken.

    My elementary school didn’t have locks on the doors. My middle school didn’t either. Nor did my high school. Now after hours, like in high school, all the entrances were locked except the ones to get to the track/field area and the main one, but that’s it. And I’m 31, so it wasn’t that long ago.

    Hell parents were less worried by pedophiles than they were about their kid getting hit by a car.

  29. “A districtwide policy prohibiting students and staff from opening doors to the outside was recently adopted after a $10,800 security system was installed at the middle school, Southampton High School, Southampton Technical Career Center and Nottoway, Meherrin and Capron elementary schools. Riverdale Elementary had a similar system installed when it was built three years ago.

    All of the schools’ doors are locked during the day. Visitors must ring a buzzer and look into a camera before office personnel can let them in.”

    Schools need such a system? Have we as a society have gotten that bad, that schools need to be locked down? Are we that spooked, so easily to wet pants?

    Just because there’s a less than %1 chance someone might do something, we have to lock it down tighter then a jewelery shop?

    Indeed schools are now nothing more then prisons, if we’re that afraid.

    1. From your quote, the policy was implemented AFTER $10,800 was spent on the system? Looks like a post-hoc justification of an ill-advised capital spend……

  30. Charles Turner – how can you be a superintendent of a school district when you can’t even figure out how a door works? Do us all a favor and dismiss yourself from the field of “education” forever and always before you further contaminate the student body with your asinine rationale.

  31. Heaven forbid there’s a fire and the kids are lined up waiting for CCTV authorization to open the door because they don’t want to get in trouble.

  32. My work has a policy like this. We have been told not to hold open doors for anyone in any circumstance. Each user has to individually swipe a keycard and reopen the door for themselves.

    My question was, “So, if the CEO or one of our senior VPs or researchers is walking up to the door as I am walking through it, I should NOT hold it open for them and in fact close it before they can catch it?” HR had no reply for that, nor a reply for my question asking for written confirmation that I would not be disciplined either for closing the door on VIPs or for failing to close the door on VIPs.

    I’m guessing that if I get fired for closing the door on a VIP that I’d have quite the wrongful termination suit given that the instruction not to hold the door for anyone is clearly printed in the employee manual.

  33. The most important thing I learned in public school is a healthy disrespect for authority.

  34. The kid was not a better security system: as has been pointed out in this thread, social engineering is always the easiest way to compromise a system.

    I question the need for that much security though, especially since you have to balance whatever threat you are worried about against the fact that the policy is trying to beat compassion and friendliness out of the children.

    Suspension as a punishment seems completely out of line.

  35. It may be time to seriously ask if it’s a good idea to continue sending children to places where such security and punitive punishments are required to keep them safe.

  36. We had those security systems installed over the holiday break in local schools. One school’s already stopped using it, the other one drives my friend, the secretary, INSANE. (Not to mention how it annoys the dozens of parent volunteers who keep the doors flapping all day long.)

    We don’t have security issues in our upper-middleclass neighborhood, the systems aren’t cheap, and yet the budget is so tight teachers have to crowd two worksheets to a page at half-size font to save money.

    I don’t know about that school, but I think the kid deserves a day of vacation for being a polite kid. I hope s/he wastes it playing video games!

  37. The same people shrieking that a kid is the best security system of all would be shrieking if the kid held the door for another adult, who went on to shoot up the place.

    Good on the kid for holding the door for someone. That’s what people do in polite society. But the school has picked different priorities and according to those priorities they did the right thing. Kids are not “better security systems,” and if you think they are then are you going to tell me you wouldn’t mind being checked out by a 13-year-old TSA officer?

    It’s just a stupid situation.

    1. The same people shrieking that a kid is the best security system of all would be shrieking if the kid held the door for another adult, who went on to shoot up the place.

      They would be making a very poor argument, I highly doubt that.

  38. The lessons learned by this student:
    1. Think only of yourself; if you have to, push people out of your way so you can feel secure.
    2. Do not help other people; ignore anyone in need.
    3. Do not be considerate of other people.
    4. You will be punished for doing a “good” deed.

  39. Clearly an “A” student does not deserve be subjected to these kinds of thoughtless, repressive punitive measures. It is wrong.
    F-ck a “D” student, however.

  40. I just got back from Family Court, where I was treated to the reality of hundreds of children being punished for breaking mindless, useless rules they don’t understand. The punishment (in addition to fines and lawyer fees of course) is mostly having a quality education withheld from them for no less than six months or more than two years – per ludicrous “offense”.

    You people make me sick. Physically ill.

    The reality is, you are so frightened and mean-spirited that you are taking out your fears on the most defenseless targets available.

    Oh! I might get hurt by a terrorist! Better beat up some infants so I can feel strong and secure! That’s what we are really dealing with here. No number of cameras, door locks, or zero tolerance policies can stop a determined person from destroying a public place. Every thinking person knows this. Those things are just excuses for the gratification of sadists, they cannot provide security in a school setting, period.

    Next time you support some sadistic, non-productive policy like this, remember: You are supporting a system that drives children to suicide, that increases crime in communities, that decreases the number of graduates, that in very real and objectively measurable ways harms every person in the community served by the school. Those are the facts. Zero Tolerance is a way to hurt and kill children for the crime of being children. That is what it does.

  41. And this is why I shut the door on that pregnant lady the other day. You can’t ever be too sure.

  42. I see we’re training kids to be rude assholes and not hold the door for anyone else. “Sorry guy with no arms, I can’t hold this door for you.”

  43. “State of the Art Security System Defeated by 10 Year Old Child – Officials Baffled”

  44. Any security system that depends on kids not holding the door open for someone else is not really a security system, it is a system designed to shift blame in the case that something bad happens.

    I suspect that it is statistically far more likely that someone who presently has access to the building would “flip out” and attempt to harm those in the school then it is that a random stranger would attempt to do the same. Or someone will simply rush the door when someone authorized enters.

    Someone should watch the security videos for a week. I’ll practically guarantee that the administrators don’t actually follow the rules about being buzzed in to the letter.

  45. What about the adult who he opened the door for? They should know the rules. Was the adult suspended for a day? And people wonder why people are not kind to each other anymore!

  46. If you operate in a secure building it’s important not to hold the door, YES, EVEN if it’s someone you know. Lots of people work in secure government buildings, for example, and they are required to come in one at a time, even if it’s their office-mate coming in behind them. You have no idea if the second person has been tricked or coerced to bring in contraband etc.. When you hold the door like this the entire security system gets broken.

    1. Good point. I wonder how many people who are all pissed about this live in secure apartment buildings, ad how many of them would be thrilled if someone just let anyone in?

      I have lived in “secure” apartments and used to let folks in until two neighbors were beaten and robbed by non-residents.

    2. “You have no idea if the second person has been tricked or coerced to bring in contraband etc. When you hold the door like this the entire security system gets broken.”

      Well…if they had to swipe their card, or be identified on CCTV, then they would have gotten inside anyway, correct?

      And for the people saying “That person may have been fired and barred from the premises yesterday, so you shouldn’t let anyone in even if you know them”…if someone has actually been identified as a security threat, then all affected personnel should be notified not to allow them inside.

      Security cards can be duplicated. A CCTV link may not pick up on small oddities. A human being recognizing another person they know well is more than enough security for something as low-risk as a school.

    3. You have no idea if the second person has been tricked or coerced to bring in contraband etc.

      Y’all been watching too much TV. We’re talking middle school here, not Fort Knox, not the Centers for Disease Control, not the Pentagon, not a Pfizer warehouse, not a National Guard Armory, not the Corry’s Slug and Snail Death refinery.

      I enjoy a good statistic; anyone have any idea, on a per-capita basis, how much more dangerous it is to be an 8th grade kid today than it was, say, thirty years ago? How many more child-snatchings are there today, swiped right from the school by white-vanned strangers or by estranged dads in beige minivans? Is the danger hugely greater than it ever was? Or has the danger been exaggerated by hysteria-inducing media? Maybe the kids are safer now that they’re living such helmeted, over-surveilled, gently upholstered lives. I don’t see nearly so many signed casts worn by kids with broken limbs as I did in my youth, so maybe the squishy playground floors are worth something. Then again, I didn’t see nearly so many tubby, out-of-breath couch potatoes in my class, either.

      I took a peek at Wikipedia’s article on school shootings to see how much worse things have gotten, and I noticed that this month marks the ten-year anniversary of the school shootings at Santana High School and Granite Hills High School. I had friends at both schools back in the late 80s (I myself attended El Capitan High School, whose attendance boundaries border both schools). I haven’t been in either neighborhood in years, but both schools used to be separated from public streets and sidewalks by nothing more than chain-link fence. I imagine they have metal detectors and cops on campus these days.

      But then there was the shooting at Woodson Middle School in New Orleans, over ten years ago. The campus had metal detectors even then. A couple of boys got in a fight, and a (previously expelled) 13-year-old boy handed them a gun through the fence. Both of the fighting boys managed to shoot each other with that same gun.

      Your kid will never be 100% safe at school.
      Your kid will never be safe on the street.
      Your kid will never be safe in church.
      Your kid will never be safe at Wal-Mart, the bank, 7-Eleven, Gamestop, or in your living room.
      Your kid is gonna die, and you just hope your kid dies after you do.

      Measures like this dipstick door policy are meant to falsely reassure illogical parents. I do like it, however, when articles like this one show up online or in the news. It makes laughingstocks of those who establish such nonsense.

  47. I see this happened in the ‘Land of the free’ and ‘Home of the brave’. How times have changed !

  48. I am thinking of going outdoors into a public area tomorrow where I may have contact with other humans. Can anyone offer me any survival tips?

    1. The illusion of safety is really selling these days. A nice racket because it can never be fulfilled.

  49. I’m starting to believe americans as a society aren’t really THAT familiar with the concepts of human systems, sanity checks or common fucking sense.

    Why as a society? This retards (the well-meaning fucknuts who “engineered” this system and the many other failing ones americans seem to have) fail consistently at leaving a series of overrides in the hands of trusted people around their punitive actions so that they could eventually be at least ameliorated. If this is intentional, then you people would better start moving elsewhere like, real soon, because things are about to get real gory.

  50. I don’t necessarily think the security policy is bad (although i’d need more details), but the PENALTY is a little ridiculous. How about a warning? Is a suspension really a proportionate penalty?

  51. Wait. Before you can be let in, you have to present yourself to a CCTV camera and wait for someone to identify you? Is this a middle school or a medium-security prison with day parole programs?

    If security is that tight, why not just have some big chunk of meat with an assault rifle standing guard at the door? Probably cost less than installing a CCTV system.

  52. Kids are not security guards. The school is wrong, the end.
    They have tried that kind of crap at office buildings where I have worked. They want us to police the entrance. Hire a fucking security guard, then. I’m not checking badges.

  53. Ya know… the “Great Generation” would not be putting up with all the bullshit hitting the fan these days.

  54. What a great way to raise a generation of kids who think their predecessors are fucking morons.

      1. Probably not, but most of them grow out of it, yes? Many of the things I thought were stupid at 14, I now understand at 24.

        I don’t think when I turn 30 or 40 that I’ll suddenly think zero-tolerance policies were a good idea, though.

        Btw, my high school found a solution to this scenario: most of the exit doors (and bathrooms, actually) were locked, from the inside as well, at all times. It was simply not possible to open those doors for someone.
        The only 2 unlocked doors had security guards at all times. This policy was started my sophomore year, after 4 students had called in fake bomb threats (presumably to get a half day off while the school was searched) the year prior. Students were no longer allowed to cut across the parking lot to get to class (school was horseshoe-shaped), either (leading to an increase in tardiness, at the same time that the started patrolling the halls to give detentions for tardiness). We were required to wear our school ID on a lanyard at all times. This, of course, had no effect on the number of bomb threats, or anything else. After each incident, backpacks were banned for a few weeks. Of course, in the event of a threat, the lack of backpacks would have had no effect at all on what the school would have to do.

        1. Btw, I noticed students seemed to divide indiscriminately into three classes on these policies: the “shut up and take it” crowd, the “publicly complain while doing nothing” crowd, and the “quietly break the rules” crowd. I don’t think any significant number of students *openly* violated them as an act of protest while I was there; we wouldn’t have been listened to, anyway.

          1. I suspect you agree with me on this. As with art, the sooner you expose children to security theater, the more it becomes an integral part of their life. I’d rather spend the money on art.

        2. I don’t buy your story.

          Locking almost all of the school doors so they couldn’t be opened from the inside breaks all sorts of fire safety laws.

    1. I see your point, but I’m not sure we’ve ever managed to raise a bunch of kids who didn’t think their parents were fucking morons. I’m pretty sure this is a vital evolutionary trait. I would like to point out however, that this in now way ameliorates the Stupid described in this article. Our children are perfectly capable of assuming their antecedents were complete morons WITHOUT us being complete morons, for fuck’s sake. It’s not like there’s ever been a generation didn’t think that anyway, so why give ’em a legitimate reason to do so?

  55. Another student had recently been suspended for two weeks for two offenses which occurred simultaneously. Apparently the penalized student had exclaimed “Gusendheit” after a fellow student sneezed. This violated two school policies 1. He used a foreign language in an English only school and the use of a religious phrase in a secular school. Gusendheit translates to “God Bless You” and such a reference is strictly forbidden.

    1. Gusendheit translates to “God Bless You” and such a reference is strictly forbidden.

      I probably won’t be the first to point out that “Gesundheit” translates as “health.” Like “salud” in Spanish. Nothing religious whatsoever.

      At least, that was what I read.

      1. Actually, you appear to be the first and you are entirely correct. A literal translation would be “good health.” God bless you would be “Gott segne Sie” which is certainly a lot less fun.

        I’ll go ahead and call shenanigans on gesundheit as well. Citation needed.

    2. In fact, [citation needed] for the whole story. What school in the U.S. would bust a kid for either of those “violations”?

        1. About the gesundheit story?

          I did read the article about the doors; that one I easily believe. It’s the gesundheit story I have trouble believing.

          1. Apologies, I was referring to the main story, not the “sneeze”. Too many hours at the computer, too many “anon” comments to track…

            BWW, your comment in #98 was spot on.

  56. Zero intelligence policy.
    They actually expect the kid to just stand there when his grandma struggles with getting decorations for the school play through the door?
    His pregnant neighbor carrying a toddler?

    I don’t think I would want to send my kid to a place so dangerous, it requires draconic punishment for security breaches caused by basic decency.
    Security/safety clearly is valued higher than edumacation.

    School shootings make this necessary?
    The situation is caused by America’s traditional mishandling of her 2nd amendment rights. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
    Or do you read this as two different subjects, separated by a comma?
    Behold the price you pay for imprecise English.

    Which well regulated militia are gun owners in? I don’t feel the NRA counts. I like weapons. I enjoy shooting at things very far away. I don’t like a world in which every putz is armed, without being armed.

  57. So, because not everyone should be trusted, nobody can be trusted.

    Awesome show America. Awesome.

  58. Nice to know that some people still have common courtesy, despite the world trying to drive it out of them.

  59. Why is it so bad to hold doors open? A friend of mine was arrested for holding the door to her residence hall open during G-20 in Pittsburgh. ._.

  60. I went to several zero-tolerance gradeschools about a decade ago, I was an excellent student, but I had many suspensions and detentions due to stupid zero tolerance policies like this.

    I, however, have always been keenly aware of the actual system, and its ridiculous flaws, and dammnit, I complained every time, pointedly and in not so polite words to the utter brainless, spineless MORONS who enforced such policies unjustly against me, and tried to point out to them the flaws in their logic and the system’s stupidity of making nearly criminal simple things.

    This incident convinces me- I was damn right to bitch, and I should have even been more emphatic about it and DEMANDED more rights. The system was and IS WRONG, it corrupts good kids needlessly, and the laws were written by lazy bureaucrats who are too fucking tired or thought challenged to simply apply THOUGHT to a unique situation, and use rulebooks like TPS reports to file a “problem” student away conveniently.

    People who enforce such mindless, atrocious policies should be beaten within an inch of their lives with their own rulebooks, and their ignorance and stupidity of judgement forced on other people be taken by students with zero tolerance!

    Imagine, zero tolerance for real stupidity in schools. THAT would change the education system faster than a union or more funding!

  61. I remember this was a big deal at university. Let’s say you walked to your dorm and there was a perfectly “normal” looking student behind you (backpack, laptop, books, iPod, groceries, etc.) That student was right behind you as you entered the dorm and followed you in. Now the university’s policy was not to let that person in, this was obviously quite a sound policy. However, no-one could ever do that. The English are generally very polite and it is almost unthinkable to just shut the door on someone’s face like that.

  62. At my (completely adult, at least in years) facility, we recently adopted a zero tolerance policy. The main guard, Eric, used to say hi to me and then buzz me in. I’ve worked there 19 years and I’m a director… and he’s security so he’d know if I’ve been canned…but he buzzes me in no longer. We still say hi, but he remains motionless while I use my card to get in.

    But, and it’s a big but, if I go to lunch with three people and then come back, do I close the door behind me, and then #2 cards in, then she closes the door and #3 cards in, and then he closes the door and #4 cards in?

    Well, no. I’m not going to slam the door on someone I know, even if they’re NOT carrying a bunch of books. Under those circumstances, how can anyone ask a 12 year old, or whatever age this person was, to let the door close on a teacher who may hold the keys to his entire future in their hands?

    I agree social engineering is the easiest way to game the system, and the “Hey hi I have books under arm plz help” gambit is the quickest way into any facility. But asking a kid to close a door on an adult he knows is in difficulty is really, really not the way to keep a facility secure.

    Even if, as others point out, you really need that level of security. Which they most likely don’t.

  63. I can easily picture a situation where a crazed killer tries to enter a school to commit a murder spree, and walks home in shame, repulsed by a locked door.

    Good job, kid. You almost doomed your entire school.

  64. This is an educational experience for the kid: Rules are arbitrary, often stupid, and not linked to any type of morality (if they are, it is pure chance).

    You can’t have a CLASS on anarchism, but you can build it into the school’s structure, if you want.


  65. and what do we get when we treat our kids like criminals… we lie to them… we cheat them… we punish them for helping others… we drug them… then we want them to grow up to be good adults???? OMG… it’s just wrong wrong wrong on sooo many levels…

  66. Incidentally just today I was listening to an interview with a guy handling security certifications for businesses.

    They canned this same system simply because it didn’t work.
    Apparently the desire to be polite to other people was bigger than the will to abide by the security rules.
    In the end they changed the system in a way that you can open the door for someone, but then you have to ensure his credentials can be checked by security once inside.

  67. I know I’d feel incredibly secure knowing that I was protected by an expensive and complicated system that can easily be defeated by *politeness*.

  68. I’m going to take the consensus here a bit to task amd speak up for the superintendent and the school boards who vote in these security measures. Petersen(#98)is correct. Parents can’t keep their child safe 100% of the time. On the other hand, never have parents felt more like their kids were sitting ducks in a classroom.

    Parents aren’t just asking for more stringent security measures to be taken to protect their children from outsiders – they are DEMANDING it. The school board members must listen and act,or find themselves voted out like any other politician. They solicit advice; they take in feedback, and use the budget available to purchase what can be bought to meet that demand. Security systems such as that in Virginia were never meant to do the task alone. Good security is always multi-layered.

    Students are in far more danger from other students today, than they are from predatory outsiders trying to get in the school. For that problem, school boards seem to have few answers and little budget, when they can be forced to acknowledge the problem at all. If the flaw in the system is that it bypassed the individual judgement of the kid who got suspended, then perhaps it’s because the schools have accepted what repeated experience has taught them, that when it comes to assessing danger and telling an adult, all kids can’t be relied upon to use good judgement uniformly. When it comes to security, the school authorities are damned-if-they-do and damned-if-they-don’t.

  69. “I’m going to take the consensus here a bit to task amd speak up for the superintendent and the school boards who vote in these security measures. ”

    Anyone who votes in, supports, and enforces “Zero-tolerance” policies is a fool and a submissive coward.

    It’s fine to have security and anti-drug policies! I encourage them.

    Zero-tolerance enforcement has no effect but theater. That you wish these effects on children is shameful and loathsome.

  70. “Parents aren’t just asking for more stringent security measures to be taken to protect their children from outsiders – they are DEMANDING it. ”

    Don’t be willfully stupid. Parents don’t want pedophiles on campus, they don’t want shootings on campus, and they don’t want drugs on campus.

    This technical infraction introduced no strangers to campus. It did not affect security.

    This isn’t goddamned Area 51.

    1. I don’t speak in favor of zero tolerance policies, I loath them. I’m pointing out the attitudes and tools available to policymakers. The problems in schools have been steadly kicked up the heirarchy to solve, when first and foremost, they should be addressed at home, between parents and their kids. Everyone – students, parents, teachers, staff, volunteers, principals, bus drivers – are all necessary participants in doing what they can to keep the schools safe, but they are throwing up their hands and/or looking the other way. They don’t want to deal with the consequences of sticking their noses in, where they may be sued.

      Zero tolerance is a crappy approach to complex problems. Should it be left to school boards to shoulder them?

  71. “I’m pointing out the attitudes and tools available to policymakers. The problems in schools have been steadly kicked up the heirarchy to solve, when first and foremost, they should be addressed at home, between parents and their kids.”

    Why are you going out of your way to defend Zero-Tolerance policies and the choice to enforce through them if you loathe them?

    “Everyone – students, parents, teachers, staff, volunteers, principals, bus drivers – are all necessary participants in doing what they can to keep the schools safe, but they are throwing up their hands and/or looking the other way.”

    This does not make schools safer.

    “Zero tolerance is a crappy approach to complex problems. Should it be left to school boards to shoulder them?”

    I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Zero tolerance solves nothing and causes objective harm. The people who sue a school will continue to do so whether these policies are in place or not, because the policies DO NOT PREVENT ATROCITIES FROM HAPPENING.

    1. I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.

      I think I understand what facetedjewel is saying, and it’s a nuanced argument that I don’t think you should be overeager to dismiss. Any “zero tolerance” policy is shortsighted and often lends itself to miscarriages of justice. You mentioned the suspension of honor roll students for possession of aspirin. I’ve mentioned on BB a few months ago the story of a classmate of mine in high school who was frogmarched off the campus in handcuffs because of a white powdery substance discovered in her purse, which turned out to be the result of a salt experiment we’d all conducted in Honors Chemistry class that week. She’s had an emotional outburst (due to trouble at home or maybe boy trouble, I can’t remember which; this was in 1987 or so), and was sent to the vice principal’s office. The VP saw her red-rimmed eyes and surly attitude, searched her purse, and called the cops. Predictably, a lawsuit followed.

      Many people have similar stories of the “successes” of zero-tolerance policies, and we’re not in disagreement that such policies are both abhorrent and non-productive.

      Facetedjewel brings up the motivation behind the establishment of such policies. Educators, as a rule, are not generically stupid people. School boards, however, cannot be relied upon to make much more intelligent decisions than any other committee. I am pleased to be able to quote Heinlein again by saying “A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.” In this instance, however, school districts are (to a degree) reacting to public panic about school safety. Parents are more obsessed than ever about the safety of their children, and since any halfway decent public school district actively solicits the input and involvement of its parent community, they’re often going to meet with strong demands for “safer” schools. I, however, think that it’s also likely that school boards are tempted to make “proactive” efforts to enhance school safety by implementing the “zero tolerance” policies without said policies necessarily being actually demanded by the parents.

      Liability is always an issue, however, and the districts and school boards know full well that if something unimaginable does go down, and there is any perception that something less than 100% of the available budget and effort was dedicated to safety, then their asses will be on the line. And that leads inevitably toward an overcorrection in the direction of Security Theatre.

      When it comes to security, the school authorities are damned-if-they-do and damned-if-they-don’t.

      This sums it up in a nutshell. I’ll add to it: when it comes to security, safety, accountability, student performance, attendance, test scores, and any overall measure (objective or subjective) of the quality of education provided at a public school, the school is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The trouble is that this sentiment right here: “If it saves even one child, it will have been worth it,” lies at the root of horrendous abuses, miscarriages of justice, billions of wasted dollars, and irredeemably ruined lives.

      Facetedjewel’s point, however, is that school boards do not institute bad policy in a vacuum. Nobody works in public education for the profit motive, no matter what Wisconsin’s governor may say, and the districts try to do the best they can with what they have available. I happen to disagree with facetedjewel that this particular school’s policy may have been the best the school could have made out of a bad situation; I firmly believe that if only they’d applied a little more perspective and imagination to whatever security problem (real or imagined) they thought they were addressing, they’d have come up with a far better solution than the mindless, half-assed, degrading door policy. But on the whole, jewel’s point is perfectly sound. For what it’s worth, my wife is a public school teacher, and you would not believe the ridiculous policies put in place by the well-meaning but often horribly misguided or ill-informed board members… and you might be surprised at how many of these bad decisions are in direct reaction to demands by even more misguided and ill-informed parents.

  72. Just as suspending honor roll (or any) children because they brought in asprin does not prevent drugs from being sold on the property.

    You’re saying a lot but arguing nothing. Just restating that people want solutions. This is not a solution. It’s meaningless fluff. Why are you arguing with us, other than to be a poor devils’ advocate?

  73. If you need cameras and security doors in you schools, then those schools are likely the worst place to send your kids in.

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