JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A Jacksonville mother is raising money to help make classrooms safe from intruders.
Valerie Boote, whose son attends Duval County Public Schools, is raising money for teachers who want door barricades for their classrooms after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
It's not the first time Boote has done a fundraiser like this. Last year she raised money for air purifiers for teachers who wanted them in their classrooms at the height of the pandemic.
"I feel like I shouldn't have to do this," Boote said. "I don't feel like anybody should have to do this."
The barricades she's raising money for are sold by a company formed by educators in Iowa in response to school shootings. The company is called Fighting Chance Solutions.
To keep an outward-swinging door from opening is a device called "the sleeve" that slips over the metal top part of a door on the inside. To keep an inward-swinging door from opening is "the rampart" which is a stick device that goes from the door handle to the floor to stop the door.
First Coast News Crime and Safety Analyst Mark Baughman says he just had this discussion about door barricades at his church.
"How are we going to make security measures hardened, at least in the classroom?" Baughman said about the church's preschool classrooms. "No matter what you do it may not be enough, but you got to do everything you can do to protect the people inside."
Baughman says it's important to make sure supervisors and the state fire marshal approve any device and make sure people can get out when necessary to.
"Whenever you do these kinds of things, you have to get permission from your school administrators or whatever it may be and that everybody signs off on it and agrees to and everybody's trained in using it," he said. "The other thing is that I would also probably confer with the fire marshals to make sure they're good with it in case, see, I want to make sure that people can get out as much as they can get in."
When seconds count, it's a safety step Boote feels forced to try, but when First Coast News asked if it makes her feel better, this is what she said:
"No. Unfortunately, it doesn't. I wish I could say it does, but it doesn't."
View Boote's fundraiser here. Reach out to Boote on her Facebook group Door Barricades for Duval County Elementary Classrooms here.
At the top of the list on Duval County Public Schools' safety protocols is keeping doors locked when students are inside. DCPS was not available to answer questions about this story Friday, but responded with this statement the following Tuesday:
"We appreciate the desire of people who want to step up to help. However, purchasing these types of safety devices for schools or classrooms is not recommended as they may have potentially harmful disadvantages.
First, they could prevent emergency personnel from accessing a classroom. Second, they could delay or prevent people in the class or in the school from escaping when needed. It’s important to note that all our classroom doors lock so that people can’t get in, but if needed, students and teachers can quickly get out.
Among the many ways the community can partner with us in keeping schools safe is to be vigilant about activity around the school and especially on social media. Report anything to the police that might be seen as a threat so that we can investigate those threats as quickly as possible."