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School security concerns now called 'emergency' were first exposed in 2018

Eldorado HS principal sounded the alarm in 13 investigation
Posted at 7:10 PM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 23:06:57-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Clark County School District board of trustees will review on Thursday nearly $26.3 million in emergency spending for cameras, security fencing, and a single secure point of entry in and out of Eldorado High School.

This all comes after a shocking on-campus attack on a teacher in April that led to rallies by educators and a fierce backlash from parents calling for change.

FULL COVERAGE: Attack at Eldorado High School

The school district is calling the $26 million safety upgrade at Eldorado an "emergency."

However, the very concerns the upgrade will address were first raised in a 13 investigation four years ago.

In the Spring of 2018, then El Dorado Principal Dave Wilson gave his campus a failing grade on safety, saying brawls and assaults on staff were an ongoing security threat.

He highlighted two things-- security cameras and entry points--the very things CCSD is now upgrading as a "life safety necessity."

In April 2018, then-Principal Dave Wilson said, "Last year, I had two police officers that were hospitalized due to student violence. In the last two weeks, I've had to Legal-2000 two different students who were making threats to shoot up my school."

Security cameras have long been an obvious tool to deter wrongdoing and investigate crimes.

Wilson told us there was a major problem at Eldorado High as he showed us a series of blank screens where images from security cameras should have been displayed.

"The technology is so old, we don't have enough RAM to keep all of the pictures up at all times," Wilson said.

We also saw one camera was stuck in a ratcheting, zoom-in/zoom-out mode.

Another got repeatedly knocked out of position by the wind, or on its own, looking at the mountains instead of the school parking lot.

We found at the time that one of the biggest problems with school security cameras is that in many schools in the district, they're analog. That means they're old, outdated, the images are grainy and when they break, in many cases they can't be fixed.

"If I'm monitoring what's happening in the parking lot or what's happening out on our fields," Principal Wilson asked. "Do you have any detail? Can you see anything? If you had somebody entering or exiting a vehicle, to try to see what they're carrying in or out... there's no clarity at all to the system."

While that makes it more difficult to prevent a tragedy, then-Detective Matt Caldwell from the CCSD Police Officer's union said it also limits investigations.

"We can easily ID a person if we have a recognizable image of their face, right?" Caldwell said. "But right now, some of the cameras don't do that for us."

Then-Trustee Kevin Child said that's not acceptable in this age of low cost, hi-resolution digital cameras.

"We've failed," Child said. "And that's an F. And we need them better."

When we asked what changes have been made at Eldorado since our 2018 report, CCSD said "the surveillance cameras already in place at the school were instrumental in identifying the suspect" who assaulted the teacher on campus in April.

In a statement, they further said,

Each school community has unique needs based on current infrastructure. To provide security enhancements, aging infrastructure must also be repaired or replaced in order to support the security technology. The cost will vary from school to school.

"In general, the scope of work to upgrade the existing security features at schools will include addressing the number of security cameras, providing a secure controlled single point entry system at the front of the school, and adding site fencing to secure access to the remaining entrances.

"Details regarding some of these upgrades will not be disclosed except to those who need to know. Security experts advise keeping exact procedures confidential to prevent people from planning ways to circumvent the security measures (NRS 388.259). While we would like to disclose security details so that our parents, students, and staff members feel more assured, doing so would allow those who intend to cause harm an advantage.

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