York City schools add cameras at doors of William Penn

Alyssa Jackson
  • William Penn's new security system will automatically take a photo each time a door is opened.
  • The doors will also sound an alarm if opened, aiding in the security of the high school.
  • Recovery officer Carol Saylor said that the district is ahead of the game on the recovery plan.

If you're walking into William Penn High School this upcoming school year, be sure to say "Cheese!"

The school district's chief of school police, Michael Muldrow, announced at the school board meeting on Wednesday a new security system in William Penn High School that will take photos of anyone who opens a door to enter the building. Photos will be taken if a person enters or leaves the building, which Muldrow said will help catch students propping doors open for their friends to get in and out as well as help identify any students who are "flight risks" who might just leave throughout the day.

The system is the first of its kind in the country, as far as Muldrow knows. The district has been working with the company that handles security with the doors and the cameras for several months to merge the systems in order for it to work seamlessly.

Carol Saylor, the chief recovery officer for the York City School District’, is shown in her office at the district administration building in York City, Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"It's pretty amazing, it's pretty intense when you see it work," Muldrow said. "It can be a little maddening at times, but from a standpoint of safety and continuity at the high school, it's definitely a game changer and a step up."

The photos will pop up on the screens in the control room, allowing the operator to see if the individual entering is a threat and alerting the school police to any suspicious behavior. Now that there will be an officer on every floor of the school at all times, response time to potential threats will be shorter than ever, Muldrow said.

Other business: At the meeting the school board also heard a presentation from chief recovery officer Carol Saylor, who talked about the recovery plan and the different steps that have been taken to achieve goals. Saylor pointed to two examples of steps taken in the recovery plan: hiring spokeswoman Erin James as a step toward improving communication and expanding the Community in Schools program.

Saylor told the board that they have been very helpful in meeting the needs of the recovery plan and said that the district is ahead of schedule in the multi-year plan.

"We're making progress, make no mistake about it," she said.

The board also unanimously approved a change to York Academy's charter. The amendment will allow the charter school to move forward with building a high school as the school keeps adding a new grade level each year. This fall, York Academy will add seventh grade.

York Academy plans to add high school

The next school board meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at 31 Pershing Ave.