WASHINGTON D.C., DC — In the four months since the school massacre in Uvalde, school security has been under a microscope. Now, records obtained by WUSA9 reveal blind spots in DC Public Schools.
Hundreds of school security cameras aren’t working.
Ward 7 School Board Member Eboni-Thompson Rose said that technology is essential to student and teacher safety.
“You both want to make sure any threats outside are deterred from coming in,” Thompson said. “You want to make sure that if something bad does happen, you're able to go back and figure out exactly why it happened, how it happened, and who we need to hold responsible.”
The list of “non-working” CCTV or closed-circuit security cameras show there were 313 broken security cameras spread across the DC Public School System as of Sept. 8. WUSA9 is not naming the individual schools due to safety concerns.
DCPS records show one high school had a staggering 82 security cameras that were not working as the fall semester got underway. An elementary school was listed with 34 non-working cameras. One middle school had 18 broken security cameras. Another high school had 13.
Add it all up, and that’s 60 different DC Public Schools spread across the city that have at least one security camera that’s broken.
“My reaction is why aren’t they fixed,” said Ruth Wattenberg represents Ward 3 on the DC School Board.
In fact, records show in the last 3 months, DCPS has only repaired 24 of its broken school security cameras, raising serious questions about how long it will take the district to get the other 313 working again.
“Faster is always better,” Thompson said. “I mean, the quicker we can get this fixed, the quicker people probably will feel a lot more comfortable with what's happening with their kids in our schools.”
In a statement, DC Public Schools told WUSA9:
“DC Public Schools values the safety and well-being of all our students, teachers, and essential building personnel.”
“Our CCTV equipment is just one part of the layered security strategy we utilize in our schools, in conjunction with Security Officers securing our premises, metal detectors that assist with keeping dangerous items from entering our facilities, and other security solutions. We are actively working to replace any worn down or faulty security equipment as we strive to maintain a safe learning and working environment.”
Wattenberg said broken security cameras are not the only safety issue she discovered during a recent tour of her ward.
“Problems with locks on the doors and some other security issues, outside doors and inside doors,” she said. “And the requests for repairs have been made. They were made long ago they'd been made again. You know, I don't know why it takes so long, but that it's not good.”
State board of education members told WUSA9 delays to DCPS repairs are an issue system-wide, from HVAC systems to leaky roofs and toilets.