Questions arise about Knox Co. Schools security systems

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A 2011 audit report by Stansell Electric Company, Inc. shows a variety of problems with security systems at Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School, provided by Professional Security Consultants and Design, or PSCD.

"They found that some of the wiring did not meet code, that a lot of the equipment that was installed did not meet the specifications, that the cameras that they installed were not functioning as they should function," said Jeff Galyon, director of property development for the Public Building Authority in Knoxville.

Audit pictures show electronic keypads mounted onto brick walls with no wires connecting the panels to the doors, faulty cables and holes for cables cut into firewalls, destroying their effectiveness.

"Makes you wonder if children are in fact safe going to a public school system at this time," said Cory Fisher, who has a daughter in seventh grade.

After a lot of back and forth to get the problems fixed, the Public Building Authority and Knox County filed a lawsuit against PSCD for $400,000.

"Kids safety is paramount. It's the number one thing that we have to be concerned about," said Tim Burchett, mayor of Knox County.

Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said kids are safe - he said as soon as he found out there were problems in 2011, the school system switched its security contractor to SimplexGrinnell.

"SimplexGrinnell has gone through and done an inspection of all of the security panels in all of our schools. They have gone through - they also do our monitoring of our fire protection systems as well. They feel good about the work that's been done, they've done the inspections, they'd identified any deficiencies, they've addressed those deficiencies," said McIntyre.

Another point of contention: conflict of interest. The step-son of the school system's chief security officer worked at PSCD when the security contracts for Hardin Valley and Powell Middle were awarded. But McIntyre said the school system followed official procedure and there was no impropriety.

Mike Walker runs PSCD. He said he'd comment after he speaks with his attorney.

Knox County Schools is holding a school safety meeting for on March 5 at Amherst Elementary School. Dr. McIntyre said its open to everyone.

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