The Woodgrove Outlander

LCPS Faces Security Concerns

Woodgrove Resource Officer McCarten. Photo by Lorallye Partlow

Woodgrove Resource Officer McCarten. Photo by Lorallye Partlow

Written by Connor Grahamn, Kylee Harrell & Lorallye Partlow

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Sam Hermens, a LCPS itinerant specialized facilitator for reading who works for Loudoun County, was caught taking pictures up the skirts of female students. A Woodgrove staff member noticed the unusual behavior of Hermens, whom he originally perceived to be a student, and immediately escorted him to the office. (The Outlander is unable to identify the staff member due to the ongoing investigation).

An incident like this can spark many ideas within the minds of staff, students and community members. One of the questions being asked is what security measures are in place to keep our school safe?

Hermens, as an itinerant, traveled to elementary schools to supervise reading specialists. Hermens was not assigned to Woodgrove, but having an LCPS badge, he entered in the front door as students arrived. He broke protocol by bypassing the office and didn’t sign in for a visitor’s pass.

According to court documents, Hermens has dealt with mental illness and has a therapist who stated that he has struggled with the urge to photograph teenage girls. Hermens stated that he was glad he was caught because he was having difficulty preventing his compulsions.

Loudoun County circuit court judge Sincavage denied bond on November 9 and Hermens’ next court date is December 20.

Although the recent event made staff and students feel uneasy, people should be put at ease knowing the staff member acted quickly to stop Hermens.

The incident caused concern amongst the student body. School security specialist Ward Sigler and the School Resource Officer Sean McCarten are in charge of monitoring all of the building’s security cameras and exits through
out the day to ensure the safety of students. They note there is one simple safety precaution that all students can take.

Poll by Connor Graham.

“I think one of our biggest issues is people propping doors open or not closing them all the way,” said Sigler.

Not only is this a problem, but a poll of students shows that many admit that they have opened doors for people they don’t know. This is a concern because, no matter how many safety procedures are in place, the building becomes less secure each time a stranger is allowed in the school.

Principal Sam Shipp also believes that the number one way to increase the security of our school is to follow the staff member’s example, and apply the ‘Golden Rule’ of school safety: If you see something, say something.

“It takes everyone’s eyes and ears. With almost 1600 students, and a couple hundred staff members, not to mention the number of people that come in and out of the building, it comes back to if you see something, make someone aware of it. Whether it’s brought to my attention or not, just let some adult know.”

With drills for fires, bomb threats, and lockdowns, Woodgrove has always focused on efficiency, preparation, and the overall safety of the students and staff. These drills must be taken seriously, so when a crisis takes place, everything can be put in order. Recently, each faculty member was provided with a school security packet that remains with them at all times, so that no matter where students are in the building, safety procedures can still be implemented in an efficient way.

Sigler and McCarten try to ensure that all aspects of school safety are always in place. “I deal with parking and making sure students are driving safely. I also make sure that the doors are locked from the time school starts. I make sure safety drills, such as the fire drill and lockdown drills, are done,” said Sigler.

Even with the circumstances, science teacher Matt Young agrees that security at Woodgrove doesn’t always include the school security staff, but the students and teachers as well. According to recent polls, even though some people don’t feel safe at Woodgrove, sixty percent said they do.

Young says that students and staff must contribute to their own safety.

“I think just having people be aware of their surroundings always helps,” says Young.

 

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