School security plan discussed

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It was a heated meeting at times, but a productive one:

"I think it was a good idea to call this meeting and for us to sort of sit down and talk through some of the issues that have been raised and talk about solutions as well. I think it was good for everyone to be at the same table and to really try to get on the same page," said Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.

A 2011 audit conducted by an independent firm revealed major problems with security systems at Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School that had been there since 2008 - things like electronic keypads mounted onto walls with no wires connecting the panels to the doors, cameras not operating correctly and holes for cables cut into firewalls, destroying their effectiveness.

"Why wasn't there an audit in 2009 when we became aware security issues were a problem?" said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett.

Dr. McIntyre said at the time, some schools were checked, but there were no red flags.

Recently, McIntyre called for the school system's current security provider, SimplexGrinnell, to audit all of the security systems, while Burchett wants an independent auditor.

Now, if the school board agrees, there will be two audits: one by SimplexGrinnell, and another by a different firm.

"A review of functionality - to make sure that our systems are working appropriately, And the proposal that was made today was more of a contract audit to make sure that at a handful of schools, we'd like to make sure that what was specified in the contract is what was actually delivered," said McIntyre.

The plan is for Burchett to confidentially select five or six schools to be audited. It should cost between $12,000 and $15,000 and should give new, objective data about the state of school security systems within six to eight weeks.

The school board will decide if it wants to move forward with that plan during its meeting on Monday.

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