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Security Updates in D38

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On November 2016, the school board introduced the new head of district security, Dennis Coates. I sat down with Cheryl Wangeman, Assistant Superintendent of District 38, to discuss the benefits and policies related to the new security officer, as well as on security in the district’s technology.

“His basic benefits are the same benefits as anybody else on staff. There is a health insurance policy that covers just the employee…It’s very much like any typical plan that you might see out there in industry. If he’d like his family members covered, he would have to pay 100% of the cost per family member just like everybody else…”

In the community, there was a rumor spreading that the district was going to pay for a car for the new security officer for private use. I asked Mrs. Wangeman about the car. “We have vehicles that people drive during the day to do their business… For a new security person, we’ll need a vehicle as well… It’s absolutely district owned… We haven’t actually purchased that vehicle yet. No, we are not giving him a vehicle [for private use]. That does not happen with anyone on the district. You are going to need a vehicle to get a vehicle.”

Derek Araje, a parent in District 38, proudly presented a gun training membership to Dennis Coates in the school board meeting on December 15, 2016. This prompted me to ask Wangeman about the gun policy for security officers in District 38. “Some school districts have armed security folks, and some don’t,” Wangeman explained. “… Academy District 20 [have] armed security folks in their middle schools and high schools… They have at least one armed security person within their facility. In this district, we do anticipate that ultimately… Mr. Coates will be armed… To be armed… as part of the school district… you have to meet a few criteria for us in terms of our insurance and in terms of what we think makes sense.”

Mr. Coates is not the only news on security in the district. A few are still concerned over the district’s technology security. Over the past year, Parents in the district have complained about two attempts to hack into the technology systems – one being a data breach on a student’s Infinite Campus account. Mrs. Wangeman commented, “There was an outside investigation that we had done… of the complete technology department. We really wanted to see are things were where they need to be. Are student’s accounts safe as they should be? Can folks hack in?… How do we stand?… We hired an outside firm to audit us… Their report is up on our website… I think it also talks about the incident [where parents complained]… The best thing for us to do as a district is to have someone with outside eyes come in and look at us and see how we are doing in terms of technology safeguards which is why we hired this company to do that.”

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The student news site of Palmer Ridge High School
Security Updates in D38