CPS grants Lane request for additional security guards


Ruby Thompson

Lane Head of Security Michael Smith watching to make sure everything goes smoothly during Quick Start.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

At Lane’s June Local School Council (LSC) meeting, Principal Edwina Thompson said that for years Lane has been asking, and failing, to receive more security guards from CPS. But, as she said at the meeting, this wasn’t going to stop her from asking CPS now that she was principal, and in her first request, she got what she asked for — three additional security guards from CPS.

“Based on conversations with school leadership, it was determined that these extra officers would be appropriate to support the safety strategies of the school,” Mary Ann Fergus, CPS’ Executive Director of Media Relation, told The Champion via email.

The number of security guards Lane has is confidential due to security reasons, but Thompson said the school is excited about the accepted request.

“For years, our security staff members have been working overtime to ensure that our students and staff can have access to our building in a secured environment,” Thompson told The Champion via email. “Morning/afternoon entry/exit, the consistent monitoring of the building/grounds and most importantly, the physical/social/emotional safety and support for students are at the core of this need.”

Michael Smith, Lane’s Head of Security, who assisted in the process of requesting more guards, is also pleased with the additional support.

“I believe that is extremely important — to have the three extra security officers that we are hiring,” Smith told The Champion via email. “Our school enrollment is always over 4,000 students. That is not including staff or faculty, [so] you can add on 500 more to that. With the additional security I think that does make a huge difference for safety in our school, even though safety is everybody’s job, including students.”

According to Fergus, the process of CPS assigning a number of guards to a school is based on numerous factors, including school size, number of exterior doors and arrival protocols. Lane’s current security payroll is split between officers assigned by the district and additional guards paid for by the school.

The district was unable to give specifics of why Lane was given these extra officers due to security reasons, but Fergus said, “in general these additional security officers will support in providing for the safety of over 4,500 students and staff.”

Over the past few years Lane’s security process has gone through multiple changes, including the removal of Lane’s two School Resource Officers (SROs) after an LSC vote in August 2020 and a new comprehensive security camera set-up.

According to Fergus, whether a school has SROs or not does not factor into the number of security guards assigned to a school.

While Lane now has official confirmation that the three new security guards will be assigned to the school, it seemed near certain this summer that Lane would get the guards in one fashion or another. At the June LSC meeting, Thompson asked the LSC to pay for the additional guards if her request did not go through.

At their July organizational meeting, the Lane LSC unanimously voted “to allow the principal to open three security positions, as she waits for CPS, who’s working on an appeal for security positions throughout the district.” The district was unable to tell The Champion whether other CPS schools were given extra security guards this summer, citing security reasons.
But, by the district accepting the request, Lane will not have to turn to internal funds.

“This means that Lane’s budget will not be impacted by these new hires,” Thompson said.

Smith will now have his largest team to date in his eight years as Head of Security at Lane.

While one difficult part of the process — acquiring the new positions — is finished, hiring will likely prove to be another hard task. At the June LSC meeting, Thompson said hiring for security guards is a difficult process given district requirements.

“We are interviewing candidates and working relentlessly to have them filled as soon as possible,” Thompson said on Aug. 8.