My name is Ken Ratliff. I'm a life-long educator and retired school superintendent. During my tenure in K-12 education, there have been numerous school shooting across America. As superintendent, I immediately felt an urgency to do everything possible to keep kids safe.
State officials began requiring Active shooter drills in schools across the country. We trained on and implemented response protocols to an active shooter event and conducted active shooter drills in cooperation with our local first responders.
One aspect of locking down in a classroom in an active shooter event called for the teacher to cover the window of the classroom door with paper and post themselves up adjacent to the door. If the intruder attempted to break the window of the classroom door to gain entry to the room, the teacher was to fight. They were to use any means necessary to strike at the arm or hand. In that moment, the teacher was the last line of defense, and we knew if the shooter gained entry, the outcome would likely be horrific. The scenario of the teacher fighting off the hostile intruder never set right with me, and I felt we had to do better.
Windows in classroom doors are necessary. They are necessary for day-to-day operations. They are necessary for safety of students and staff so the activities of the classroom can be casually monitored by school administrators and school security personnel without disrupting instruction. I’ve tested tempered glass and wired tempered glass and its ability to withstand the strike from the butt of a weapon or a bullet. The bottom line is the glass can be broken out quite easily and the intruder can literally gain access to the classroom in seconds. Security films applied to windows to aid in intrusion prevention, but aren’t suited for the windows of classroom doors because they don’t accommodate an attachment system necessary to be effective.
To solve this problem and address this vulnerability, I envisioned a sliding shutter system, constructed of steel, which would easily slide to cover the window and lock into place preventing a hostile intruder from seeing into the room, gaining entry, or extending a weapon into the room. I discussed my idea with my local first responders and the fire marshal. With their blessing and input, I worked with a local machine shop to fabricate the units. My building maintenance crew installed the units on the interior of our classroom doors over Christmas break in 2017.
In February 2018, the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida occurred. The shooter, armed with an AR-15 and 300 rounds of ammunition, entered the building ultimately killing 17 people. He carried out his carnage by walking down the hallways taking aim at students and teachers in the corridors and shooting into classrooms. Following this incident, I was compelled to make my invention available to schools across the county as I felt it was a necessary fundamental layer of protection for students and teachers in an active shooter event. If we are going to ask teachers and students to lockdown in a classroom, that space MUST, be a secure location to lockdown.
I took an early retirement that year with a goal to make schools across the country more secure by addressing the classroom window vulnerability in a cost-effective way. I applied for a patent for my product, established Window Armor, LLC.
To date we've installed our classroom security shutters on over 1000 classroom doors and we're just getting started. If we can help improve the safety and security of the staff and students at your school please reach out.