School Insecurity: Memphis City Schools, Part 1 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

School Insecurity: Memphis City Schools, Part 1

To Catherine Petroski, the safety of her daughter at school is of paramount importance.

"It's frightening," she said.  "Just outright frightening."

She was talking about undercover video, shot by Action News 5, inside her daughter's school.

"I think they need to have better security," she said.

Idlewild Elementary was just one of eight Memphis City Schools randomly chosen for this Action News 5 investigation. 

At Idlewild, an Action News 5 producer, armed with a hidden camera, had no problem getting buzzed right in.  Once inside, nobody asked her a thing.  She was able to walk up and down a hallway without a visitor's pass, even walking past several children as she roamed freely.

Our staffer was also able to follow an employee into Fairview Junior High.  There, she went up and down stairs and even peeked into classrooms before someone asked if she needed help.  Even then, she was still allowed to tour the school.

It was the same story at White Station High.  There, our staffer walked in through a side door between classes.  She was confronted in a hallway before leaving the building.  Later, she went back in the same door.  During that trip, she noticed unplugged metal detectors stashed in a stairwell as she roamed the hallway.

Manassas High students just moved into a brand new building.  There, our staffer walked in through an unlocked door being used by construction crews.  She was able to check out the new facility with no problems, until a security guard finally approached her in a hallway and directed her to the office.

Petroski couldn't help but imagine if a child predator had the same access.

"I wouldn't know what to do," she said.  "It would be just traumatizing."

For every city school that failed, an equal number passed our undercover test.  Our staffer was confronted by an employee, or not even buzzed in, at Riverview, Frayser, Grahamwood, and Downtown Elementary Schools. 

That's the way, according to district leaders, it is supposed to work.

Parents like Petroski weren't the only ones that reacted to our investigation.  Tonight at 10, hear what the Memphis City School district had to say about what we found.

Click here to send an email to Jason Miles.
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