Security concerns prompt restroom changes at Hilton Head High

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comMarch 9, 2012 

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Notes scrawled on bathroom walls have prompted several lockdowns at Hilton Head Island High School andnew protocols that restrict bathroom access.

School district spokesman Jim Foster said six of the school's 12 multi-stall bathrooms have been closed since March 1. The closed bathrooms, which were used less frequently than the ones that have been kept open, have been blocked off with plywood.

Additionally, students must sign log books when they leave class to use the restroom. Security cameras have been adjusted so the entrances to the restrooms are more visible, and school staff are in each of the six open restrooms between classes.

Foster said the measures were taken after four threats were left in restrooms at the school.

A threat prompted the school to go on "modified" lockdown for about two hours on March 1 -- students remained in class and instruction continued, but they weren't allowed to move about the hallway.

The note was discovered by a staff member. Foster said that security camera footage would be reviewed in an attempt to find the student who left the threat.

Another threat was left in a restroom Wednesday. Foster said the school didn't go on lockdown then, but extra security measures have since been put in place, including more teachers monitoring the cafeteria during lunch and an increased police presence.

Foster said Hilton Head High is the only school in the district using such measures, and it's not certain how long they will be in place. Attempts to reach principal Amanda O'Nan were unsuccessful.

"We can't ignore these kinds of threats, so we're always going to err on the side of caution," Foster said. "But we also can't allow one or two students to hijack the instruction day just because they have a magic marker and a bathroom stall."

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