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CHICAGO (CBS) — The school massacre that killed 19 children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas this week has forced school districts the country to reevaluate their security plans.
This includes Chicago Public Schools – and we have uncovered a potentially dangerous concern inside two CPS school buildings. Teachers are unable to lock their classrooms from the inside.
As CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza reported Friday, it is not just a concern – but also a code violation.
“I felt like – I don’t want to say I felt betrayed, but I felt like – what can I do?” said CPS parent Cornetta Hopkins.
Hopkins just found out that the doors on her kids’ classrooms in kindergarten and fifth grade at George W. Tilton Elementary School, 223 N. Keeler Ave., only lock from the outside.
Hopkins said her fifth grader told her about the situation in his classroom.
“He said, ‘It’s just the outside.’ I said, ‘So there’s no lock on the inside? He said, ‘No, we only lock the door on the outside.'”
We first heard about this when we heard a tip from a staff member at one Chicago public school. Then we started asking parents – is this happening at your child’s school?
Now, we’re learning that locks only exist on the outside of classroom doors in more than one public school.
It is a huge problem, and a violation of Illinois School Code. The code says doors need to be lockable without opening the door.
Photos from two schools – of which Tilton is one – show two schools with locks on one side – and not the other. A staff member would need to leave the classroom to lock the door from the outside in an emergency.
And under school code, unlocking the door needs to be possible from the occupied side of the room – without a key. In these classrooms, such is not possible.
“With a door lock on the outside, you’re looking at another impediment to secure your child,” said Sean Burke, president of the School Safety Advocacy Council. “During a real incident, that teacher is under stress.”
Burke creates school safety plans across the country.
“In recent history, we’ve only had one student killed behind a locked classroom door, and that was in the Parkland shooting – where the attacker was walking down the hallway, looked in through a window on the door, and fired into the window,” Burke said.
He calls a locked door the last line of defense – not to mention an easy fix.
“That gunman is thinking, ‘Do I spend a number of minutes shooting my way through it, and possibly not having victims on the other side?'” Burke said.
We reached out to CPS, asking why teachers don’t have locks inside their classrooms. We reached out to CPS, asking why teachers don’t have locks inside their classrooms. CPS released this statement: “CPS is currently undergoing a Districtwide audit which includes a review of our classroom locks to confirm that our locks comply with the Illinois School Code.”
We found right now, they don’t.
“I am not comfortable sending my kids to school, but they have to get an education,” Hopkins said.
CPS said they will not make any fixes until that audit is finished this fall.