Shelton Dukes is the Gardendale High School Principal and heads the largest of the public schools in the city. GHS is a large campus that presents challenges that other schools may not face. “This campus is very open and accessible, some schools are not,” said Dukes.
Dukes noted that some schools, like Corner High School, are less accessible and have one way in and one way out. GHS has a different design with 27 exterior exits and multiple entry points on all four sides.
While no plan is foolproof, Dukes says GHS has safety plans in place for the school and also an athletic safety plan. The City of Gardendale provides officers to patrol the school each morning students are in school.
There are assigned duties during the day for teachers as well, and Dukes says the school will “have more discussions with students that if you see something, say something.”
A custodian is also assigned to check every door throughout the day and there are night lock systems for every classroom door made of steel that goes into the concrete when engaged.
There are multiple things to address when preparing and Dukes stresses it’s “being visible, having enough people in the hallways and making sure doors are secured.”
GHS also has over 70 cameras covering the interior and exterior of the school and those are internally monitored. The school is required to do monthly safety drills and Dukes said the school is “required by state law to do a lockdown drill in the first 6 weeks” of school. “We try to do that within the first 2 weeks of each semester, and we try to do two per semester. Some say we overreact on lockdowns, and I do, but I would rather overreact and err on the side of caution than not react at all.”