Civil Liberties

Expensive New School Security System Traps Teacher in Bathroom

A $2 million boondoggle-er, "security system"-placed in New Jersey's Belleville High School proved its merit and unerring wisdom when it locked a teacher in a bathroom.


Moaning Myrtle
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire / Youtube

A $2 million boondoggle—er,  "security system"—placed in New Jersey's Belleville High School proved its merit and unerring wisdom when it locked a teacher in a bathroom. According to

Since school policy is to not allow the use of cell phones, no one knew where she was, or what happened to her until they went looking for her. Luckily, the teacher was carrying her purse, with her phone inside. When her co-workers retrieved their phones to try to call her, they found that she had been frantically trying to call and text people to come help her.

By the way, this is the same RFID system that the Board of Education pushed through as part of their controversial surveillance system, installed and managed by Clarity Technologies Group, at a cost of $2 million.

Even worse, when they actually discovered that she was locked in the bathroom, they could not open the door by swiping with their own RFID cards because the system had malfunctioned. Apparently someone had to come and pry open the door to finally get her out.

While this particular incident occurred in April, it was apparently just one of several such mishaps. The system was ostensibly put in place to prevent another Newtown, though how it would actually accomplish that, I have no idea. A gunman bursting into the school would show up on the monitors, yes, but would also be pretty visible even without monitors.

A malfunctioning security system is a danger in and of itself, as NutleyWatch pointed out:

What if this had been a child locked in a bathroom late on a Friday afternoon, just before everyone left for the weekend? Just imagine the fear and the trauma that child might endure as a result, not to mention the ensuing lawsuit.

What if this system locked 30 kids inside their own classroom during a fire?

What happens to all the doors in the school when a fire knocks out the network, or melts some of the cabling? Does the entire building become a deathtrap for everyone now locked inside?

It seems like this is what happens when a school suddenly decides it needs a security system and signs a contract with a particular company—the only one that managed to get in a bid—two weeks later. (You can read about that hasty business decision here.)

Note that while the school district managed to find $2 million for the safety of its dear children, the history books it provides those same kids are so old, they don't even cover 9/11. 

Odd for a school so focused on terror, isn't it?