RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- The Washoe County School District has its own police force, but many area charter schools do not have that extra security. A parent contacted News 4 wanting to know why there is no security at charter schools and how they're keeping students safe. Our Fact Finder team talked with the district and charter schools to find out if they think it's a concern.
News 4 talked with four of the eight WCSD-sponsored charter schools about their safety challenges. All of them have single-point entry during the day and have trained their staff to be ready in case the worst happens.
They say there is no reason for parents to be concerned.
"What we try to tell our students and our staff is that you really can't live in fear all the time," said Steve West, principal of Rainshadow Community Charter High School.
West can see and hear what is going on in Rainshadow at any time.
"I have a camera system throughout the building," West said. "I have audio video recording inside the classrooms."
West said their staff has it covered and they don't want or need an officer on campus.
"Pretty much everybody respects everybody and they do what they're asked to do, and I think having a police officer here would change that dynamic a lot," West said.
With student bodies from 100-300, it's a dynamic the principals said gives them a big advantage over larger schools.
"One of our assets is because we're so small we know everybody," said Bob De Ruse, principal of Academy for Career Education. "We know when something just doesn't look right or feel right."
"We get very close to them so when we start to see things bubble or brew up we can ususally nip it in the bud pretty quickly," said Carol White, principal of I Can Do Anything Charter High School.
White said when they do need extra assistance the Washoe County school police will help.
"We get tremendous support right now with the K-9 unit and the gang unit and that's been very helpful," White said.
Mariposa Dual-Language Academy Principal Neil Schott said the school police helped them evaluate their emergency management plan.
"We're in the process of making changes to that plan based on the input that we received from them," Schott said.
WCSD Police Cheif Mike Mieras said they always offer that help.
"We will go and work with any of the charter and private schools that call us and request that service."
Mieras said they will do what they can to protect all students not just ones in the district.
De Ruse said those school police gang, K-9 and emergency services are valuable as charter school budgets are tight.
"If we had the money we could maybe install tighter security, but as charter schools we don't get funding for facilities," De Ruse said.
So Mariposa is working on a free program they call "Heroes in the Hallway" to beef up security.
"The idea is to get some of our dads who are available during the day to be on campus," Schott said.
No matter what they have or don't have - they'll find a way to protect their students.
"More important than anything is that we pay attention to what's going on and we know what our resources are," Schott said.
"You have to live your life and have a little faith," West said. "Believe in the best and try to take whatever precautions you can."
The one concern the charter school principals expressed is they said the school district doesn't notify them when a Washoe County school is on a code red or yellow lockdown, and many of the schools are close to charters.
News 4 brought that concern to the school district, and in a statement today Chief Mieras said it has always been their policy to notify "charter schools in
the area of a school in lockdown if officers believe the threat may impact their schools. We are committed to working with charter schools in order to
keep them informed of any possible threat to their students or staff members."