BELOIT (WIFR) -- In light of the shooting in Connecticut, area schools are reminding us to leave the drills to them. Converse Elementary School in Beloit had a problem Tuesday where someone tried breaking in a side door, to test the school's security. This man was dressed in camouflage and was arrested for trespassing.
(Beloit, WI) – In the wake of the devastating shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday, a local citizen decided today to pose as an intruder trying to enter a side entrance at Converse Elementary School, 1602 Townline Avenue.
At Converse, like all School District of Beloit buildings, building doors are locked, including front entrances, which are monitored. According to a teacher on the scene at the time of the attempted forced entry, a camouflage-garbed man showed up at a side entrance of the primary school (grades K-3) and was seen trying to forcibly open the doors.
The teacher reminded a nearby kindergartener that students are not to open the doors to anyone, and remembers hearing through the door, that the man was also telling the student not to open the door. She immediately cleared the hallway and notified the front office about the intruder.
Another staff member found the man on the sidewalk, and was told he was only “testing” school security. The district’s Safety and Security Coordinator was called, who talked to the man and heard his intent to test the school, as well as the man’s name and address. Police were called, who responded quickly, and arrested the man at the address given to the Security Coordinator.
The principal, Stephanie Jacobs, will be following up with her staff to evaluate actions taken, as well as sending a letter home to Converse parents on security issues. She plans to not only reinforce previous messages of following correct procedures out of consideration for student safety, but also tightening those procedures such as no longer allowing parents arriving very early to pick up their kids, and waiting inside the school. She notes that it is tough balancing a welcome atmosphere with security, but that safety of students and staff is top priority.
The Superintendent of Schools, Steve McNeal, urges the community to not take it upon themselves to repeat such an attempt, noting it is not legal, and can be traumatic for students, especially primary schools (grades K-3) like Converse. Emergency drills, such as lockdown drills, practiced throughout the year in the District, are done with a strong education component meant to instill greater awareness of the different emergency procedures without instilling unnecessary fear. He commends the quick actions of the teacher in getting children to safety, and appreciates the Beloit Police Department’s quick response.