Despite concerns, security follows policy

Dominick Bartels, News Writer

In schools throughout the nation, security guards are a staple of the high school experience. Between yelling, “get to class,” breaking up a fight, or building rapport with students, it is hard for any student to go through high school without having an interaction with school security. 

North’s halls are patrolled by three Omaha Public Schools (OPS) trained security guards, with a fourth in training, two security guards, who serve as support, that are contracted out, as well as two school resource officers, who are Omaha Police Officers. 

According to an OPS job posting for a security guard, the first responsibility listed is “… to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff and the security of the facility.” 

However, many teachers and students feel that the security is not fulfilling that responsibility. 

Amanda Gutierrez, English teacher and student ambassadors sponsor at North recalls a time a parent of a touring student voiced her concerns of how safe North High’s halls are after their student’s tour. 

“It’s embarrassing,” Gutierrez said. 

Laura Geiger, English teacher at North recounts a time she was forced to break up a fight.  

“I was doing hallway supervision when the fight broke out. [A Lionsgate] Security [guard] just stood at the “T” and did nothing. Luckily Mr. Skradski came out and helped.”  

This does not go unnoticed by students. 

Jeriona Taylor, 12, remembers the same fight saying, “[Security] really doesn’t care about us. You can tell.” 

Security is encouraged to follow the “path of least resistance” when breaking up fights according to Kathy Lee, assistant principal at North. In short, this means first verbally try to break it up, then step between the fighters, and finally, if all else fails, restrain them. 

Reginald Jamerson, an OPS security guard at North High stated that OPS security guards go through three phases of annual training: video, physical, and a written test. Security guards must pass this training to keep their certificates.   

Teachers and administrators, however, are not trained in restraint tactics.  

“Not everyone is trained,” Jamerson said, “This can cause issues if a teacher were to get hit or something. For the most part, if there is a fight, all the security guards will make their way there.” 

Lee explained that teachers should handle escalations in their classrooms when they arise, making an “in the moment judgement call.” However, Lee emphasized, if situations cannot be deescalated, teachers should call for help.  

“Our priority responsibility is always the safety of the student,” Lee went on to say, “We are not just going to let [students] fight and hurt each other.” 


*A previous version of this article inaccurately claimed that Gutierrez said, “Our halls are an embarrassment, they are not safe.” and did not specify that the security guard in Geiger’s anecdote was from Lionsgate, not OPS. *