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?

NEXT: Bipartisan Senate Duo Pressures Obama for Real Surveillance Reform

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  1. So their plan to save students from another Newtown is to lock all the kids inside with the gunman, and prevent anyone from getting in to help?

    1. Shelter in place, folks.

    2. That'll keep the officers safe. That's what matters.

    3. You shouldn't be surprised at the lack of thought that went into this. Schools of Education are where you go when you can't hack a real major.

  2. What fucking idiots

    1. Fucking maglocks, how do they work?

      1. +1 juggalo

  3. 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

    Up to that point, I was totally OK with it.

    1. SkyNet has made a crucial mistake in falling for the propaganda that people would be idiots without public school teachers.

      1. People can be idiots with or without school teachers, public or private.

        But having a professional coach makes it easier to reach a more advanced level of idiocy.

  4. 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?

    Morgan Freeman was a hero for locking all the kids inside, remember?

    1. Morgan Freeman is fireproof, no problem.

  5. They need to upgrade to the Intellilink Gold Package.

    1. I knew this would be here.

  6. Fun fact:

    Back in November, we built a new clinic, and the institution that bought us out installs a high-tech security system that requires constant, active, live and stable network back to the mother ship (offsite, 45 minutes away) to function.

    I said, "Based on what I've seen of the quality of your networks, this seems like a really bad idea."

    Everyone nodded and told me go away.

    Sure enough, one day the line between my organization and the mother ship went boffo, and clinic staff were locked out. Had to call in another manager with hard keys to open up. Once they got in, the automatic sliding doors wouldn't open for patients. No one even noticed until they saw a small crowd milling around outside the building, so they had to override the front doors to manual.

    1. Why? Why would you ever do this in the age of cheap computers? Just sync the databases whenever you have network.

      1. My guess is the system was probably intended to be used over lan, but they've grown and now they're using it over WAN.

        Another fun one (and this really isn't any one person's fault per se) but the number of times that 'failover' systems are the cause of the failure.

        Two firewalls mirrored in high availability, failover mode with a heartbeat cable between them.

        Firewall two (slave) goes boffo and decides it can't talk to Firewall one (master). Firewall one is actually working fine, but the failover one gets the problem. It stands up and says, "I'm master now!" and then the two firewalls start fighting for control and the hospital drops.

        We're having a problem with a switch in our Pharmacy and lab, right now in that condition with two sup-engines fighting for supremacy. The short-term fix: pull one sup-engine and hope you don't have a real hardware failure.

        1. Yeah, I've done that.

        2. " with two sup-engines fighting for supremacy."

          The process...has begun.

          1. There can be ... only one!

        3. Ahhh, didn't you get the memo? One of the California school districts - don't remember which - included the words slave and master in their hate words list and wanted all such references removed from the computer systems.

  7. hoisted something petard something.

    I'm sorry; this is just funny. But hey, those teachers apparently abide by the no cell phone policy.

    1. Except for the one that got trapped. Maybe the security system was working after all. Because how else are going to catch the cell phone outlaws if the bathroom doesn't lock them in until the authorities can come and get them?

    2. Yeah, that was the funniest part to me. My mom is a teacher's aide and constantly texts me from work.

      1. My brother graduated high school in 2002. This was pre-texting, but my parents would just call him at school if they wanted to tell him something. They didn't give a shit about the "no phone in school" rule. But for some reason in 1997, only drug dealers had pagers, according to the very same couple.

  8. "They called me old fashioned for teaching the Duck and Cover method, but who's laughing now?"

  9. 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.

    I graduated high school in 2004. We never made it past WWII in any history class.

    1. You know who else never made it past WWII?

        1. TOO SOON!

          1. My grandfathers.

      1. Eva Braun?

      2. Clara Petacci?

      3. Obama's high school history teacher?

    2. Probably a good thing.

      Why even teach history in K-12?

      It is only there so progressives can rewrite it and indoctrinate children into socialism.

    3. THIS. I graduated in 2006 and I never made it past WWI. I blame this for why kids reach voting age and they have no idea what historical context they're entering.

      It's difficult to make political decisions when you have no idea what happened during the 4 decades before you could vote.

      1. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are providing a free market solution to this problem.

      2. Same here, and I was out in 1982.

        The last topic I remember being heavily covered was the early 20th century economic panics and the scourge of "laissez faire" and the "cross of gold". WWI started getting covered the last week of the school year and it was so rushed that it basically sounded like the US got involved to stop other countries from fighting, kinda like a playground supervisor.

        1. Well, Uncle Sam has been operating on that premise ever since.

          (Actually, it's been doing that ever since Teddy Roosevelt brokered the Treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.

    4. Same with me. I don't think we got to WWI most of the time, actually.

  10. 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.

    Typical public-school priorities. The educrats will surely point to the old textbooks as evidence that the school district is underfunded.

  11. You know what really grinds my gears? Those damn "eco-friendly" automatic flush toilets that flush at the slightest bit of movement from the person sitting on it.

    They seem to be in every college or government building nowadays.

    1. Are those supposed to be eco-friendly? I thought it was just a sanitary thing.

      1. Yeah, especially since I've mostly tended to encounter them at rest stops and airports, long before any of that shit was remotely low-flow.

      2. I always assumed they were since the restrooms at my university advertised it as such (along with the motion detector triggered sink faucets and paper towel dispensers).

    2. They seem to be in every college or government building nowadays.

      LEEDS certification, baby.

      1. ADA compliance as well. Faucet handles, and the levers to dispense paper towels may be too far away for someone in a wheel chair to reach.

        Sinks must be high enough that a standard wheel chair can roll under them, but not so high that someone in a standard wheel chair can't reach.

    3. Put tape over the sensor.

  12. they could not open the door by swiping with their own RFID cards because the system had malfunctioned.


    What is wrong with a lock and key and a bolt-latch on the inside?

    1. Some politically connected contractor can't charge enough for it?

    2. Keys can be copied. But RFID? That's foolproof.

    3. What's wrong with a panic bar on the interior side that overrides the electronic lock? Seems to me this is a violation of fire code.

      1. No panic bar is necessary...there are "one way" locks which can prevent you from entering an area without proper authorization, but work on the other side like a plaun unlocked door. As an example, see every electronic lock in every corporate office building.

    4. On a retrofit, it's easier to install a magnetic lock. There's supposed to be a release button on the inside (secured area), but it sounds like they did not wire it properly or the teacher didn't know about it. As to the cards not working, that probably means it was a low-grade system anyway.

      I hope the $2M was for the entire district, because if that was for one school, some contractor made a $1.95M profit.

  13. So she called and texted all her colleagues, but there wasn't a single land-line in the building she could try? What are parents supposed to do if they need to talk to a school official, send up smoke signals?

    1. RACIST!!!!

  14. They were only trying to help. You people need to cut your overlords some slack.

  15. Ah, an article when I can bring my expertise to bear!

    So I have to wonder...generally these electronic locks only lock "one way", so you cant get into a door but you can get out. Why isnt that the case here? Why do you have to present credentials to get out if a bathroom?

    1. As far as I'm concerned, it's not even a tech issue, that's a fire code violation (roadz and government regulation!)

      You can't trap people in an building or space. The people inside must have an easy, low-tech way to get out.

      1. What Paul said. It is criminal negligence to have a system in a school that locks people in like this.

      2. It's perfect if you take control of the system before a rampage.

  16. The system didn't malfunction at all. It was merely enforcing the "All employees must wash hands before returning to work" sign.

    1. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that...

  17. And how long before someone burns to death because the system malfunctions and won't open the doors during a fire?

    This is a great example of people being so stupid they are unaware of their own ignorance. If your idea is to put a lock on every door, you are creating a jail. And that sounds great and all until you realize all of the dangers and responsibilities that come with locking people in somewhere. The corollary to keeping people out is keeping people in. It ought to scare the living hell out of any parent of a kid in this school to realize the school has a system where doors are automatically locked. It is mind bogglingly stupid and negligent. It is just a matter of time before a kid gets locked in a bathroom or closet or God knows where and winds up getting hurt.

    There is a famous tort case about a fire in a World War II era Boston night club called the Coconut Grove. The owners locked all of the doors to keep people from sneaking in and a fire killed a couple hundred people as a result. The people who installed this monstrosity should be fired and it should be immediately be disconnected. It won't of course and in a few years some kid will die in a fire or have a seizure while locked in the bathroom and nothing else will happen.

    1. This is a great example of people being so stupid they are unaware of their own ignorance.


      Unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.[1]

      This has been my favorite workday go-to link lately.

      "You won't have data until the 12th of July"

      "Let's move the clinic in on the 7th"

      1. It is RC's rule that the less you know about something the easier it seems. I think his rules are a bit overrated but that one is the Gospel truth.

        The funny thing is that whenever I mention it to someone, they rarely understand what I mean and think I am being smart or am stupid. The rule is so true and so many people victims of it that few people can even comprehend it.

        1. I think his rules are a bit overrated


          1. No. They are. But that one is the exception that proves the rule.

      2. In complete accord with this, my contempt for IT certification boot camps is infinite. 1 week and a brain dump test does not make you an IT expert.

    2. The Cocoanut Grove case also led to the owner going to prison, and a leading case about manslaughter -

      "Barney Welansky, whose connections had allowed the nightclub to operate while in violation of the loose standards of the day, was convicted on 19 counts of manslaughter (19 victims were randomly selected to represent the dead). Welansky was sentenced to 12?15 years in prison. He served nearly four years before being quietly pardoned by Massachusetts Governor Maurice J. Tobin, who had been mayor of Boston at the time of the fire. In December 1946, ravaged with cancer, Welansky was released from Norfolk Prison, telling reporters, "I wish I'd died with the others in the fire." Nine weeks later, he was dead."

      1. I know. And they should have gone to prison. What is amazing is that fifty or however years later, the owners of the club in Rhode Island where Great White was playing did the same damn thing and got a ton of people killed.

        1. +1 Pyrotechnics in a low-ceiling venue!

          1. With locked emergency exits and a standing room only crowd. What could possibly go wrong?

            1. They didn't have the emergency exits locked.

              What they did have was no sprinkler system (mainly due to a code enforcement mistake) and a over-capacity crowd.

              1. IRIC, the problem was that the sheer number of people trying to crowd out the emergency exits prevented them from getting out.

      2. in violation of the loose standards of the day

        If only the standards had been tighter, they couldn't have been violated.

        1. This would be funny if so many people didn't believe that regulation was a magic wand preventing people being stupid.

          1. It just requires stricter enforcement.

            Like all the businesses the City of Detroit wants to shut down because they don't have all the correct permits.

    3. A Cook County IL gov't bldg in downtown Chicago had the policy of locking all stairway doors for security purposes so that you could only get out on the ground floor once you were in the stariway. The idea being they don't want miscreants sneaking in via the ground floor stairway door that doesn't close all the way.

      Naturally, the bldg caught fire at the bottom of the stairway and the people in the stairway were trapped and died because they couldn't go up the stairs and try another stairway.

      It was sad to see the media just parroting the idiot bureaucrats who blamed everything BUT the idiotic "security" policy. And it's so idiotic that the policy used at the gov't bldg is now a regulation for all bldgs over a certain # of floors in the city. I really hope they all die in a fire by being trapped in a one-way stairway.

    4. It's particularly a risk because a fire could easily keep the lock system from functioning properly.

    5. D'ya think they can get their money back?

  18. Public schools reaffirm their status as starter prisons everyday.

  19. Schools should spend their money on PowerBall tickets instead of elaborate security systems since their odds are much better there than ever being the victim of a mass shooting.

    1. *snort*

      The thought of a bureaucracy EVER understanding relative probablities is a laugh. (Individual bureaucrats may, but they are shouted down in the rules mania.)

  20. In the old days a properly prepared teacher would have shot the lock off.

    1. Shop class shouldn't have a problem getting out.

  21. "The system was ostensibly put in place to prevent another Newtown"

    Because the ability to electronically lock all the doors wouldn't be useful to someone trying to kill a room full of students.

  22. I'll bet $20 bucks that this was a one-way lock, and that she was trying to open a door that pulls in by pushing on it.

    1. I will not take that bet.

  23. But remember, it was so children (and their parents) would feel safe, not be safe!

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