The driving force behind campus security

Committee ponders increasing manpower in parking lots to maximize safety


A student does a jump on his scooter in the student parking lot as students are released after fourth period for eighth period release. In the student parking lot students can be seen walking to or from their cars listening to music, talking to their friends and looking at their phones all while dodging traffic.

Amelia Vanyo, Editor-in-Chief

In 2013, a student was hit and killed by a parent turning around in the parking lot at Bryan Adams High School in Dallas where he was catching a connecting bus to Townview High School.

“He was caught between the car and the curb as kids were going into school,” said Coppell High School Marketing/Business Practicum Instructor Richard Chamberlain, who worked at Bryan Adams at the time. “They brought the jaws of life to get him out, they got him out and he was dead. And that all happened at the front of the school. It was a really sad thing, it was sad that people had to see it, it was sad for the parent where it happened.”


After having a tragedy of this sort hit so close to home, it is no surprise that Chamberlain puts a lot of emphasis on traffic safety at Coppell High School.


“If you’re in my class, you’ll hear me say wear your seatbelt, drive safe, be careful who you get in the car with because that’s just how people die all over the place, in car wrecks,” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain is a part of a committee focusing on school safety. In a portion of the initial meeting, members discussed traffic safety and the possibility of putting more signage around the school reminding student and parent drivers about the rules of the road.


“[The speed] of students at the end and beginning of the day was a major concern for all of us. We talked about adding more speed bumps or something that we could use as a deterrent to stop students from driving with high speeds,” associate principal Sean Bagley said.


The speed limit in the student parking lot is 15 mph but students can be seen both before and after school speeding through the lanes toward their destination.


Coppell High School security attendants Dave Trail and Kevin English have given out a total of almost 1,000 parking tickets this year.


“We have probably quadrupled the number of tickets and boots from last year,” Trail said.


While there are rules in place for students and parents alike, the difficulty is making sure drivers and pedestrians adhere to the rules.


Parents dropping off and picking up their students are required to use the parent loop behind the school. Parents can drop off students starting as they turn to the back of the school, but are asked not to let students in while alongside the school or on Town Center Drive. Parents must follow the loop counterclockwise, and can drop off and pick up students in the left or right lane; once their student has exited their vehicle, they can merge into the middle lane and continue along the loop back toward Cowboy Drive.


Campus administrators  spend the first few weeks of school directing traffic in the parent loop to teach drivers the way of the road, but without their presence parents often fail to follow the plan in place to drop their children off – either by cutting through the middle lane, dropping off their student before they reach the back of the school, or driving through the loop clockwise.


In the student parking lot, drivers are expected to remain within the speed limit and follow the arrows along the road when driving to ensure they are traveling the correct direction. Students are also requested to use crosswalks when walking to or from their car, but while there are two crosswalks at the exit and entrance of the Student Parking lot, there is only one cross walk in the student parking lot – directly in front of the arena.

A student listens to music on his headphone while walking to his car after school on April 6. In the student parking lot students can be seen walking to or from their cars listening to music, talking to their friends and looking at their phones all while dodging traffic.

After school, Coppell PD School Resource Officer Chris Cobb directs traffic out of the student parking lot, but no one directs traffic after seventh period when many students are leaving for a release period. In the mornings, neither Cobb or SRO Diane Patterson are in the parking lots, as they have found that students often need to talk to them before school.


Trail and English are alone as they work together to ensure students are adhering to the rules in place for most of the day, but often teens can work around their efforts.


“I think most of the students know the rules, but I think they’re trying to test to see how much they can get away with before someone says something to them,” English said.


It is not always just students walking to or from the school that are putting themselves in danger. The cross country team is instructed by coaches not to cut through the parking lot during their morning run, but as students pull into their parking spaces before school, it is not uncommon to see a group of runners making the trek through the parking lot and not alongside it.


Athletes walking from the fieldhouse to the commons in the morning also are asked by coaches and administrators to stay on the sidewalks, but often cut through the parent loop, putting themselves in danger in the process.


“It’s on the coaches to monitor [their players],” associate principal Melissa Arnold said. “They put rules and expectations in place and they should be out there assuring that that happens.”


Trail and English both made it clear they think the problems with traffic safety at the school are not due to a lack of rules or poor design of the parking lots, but a lack of support staff.

Because there are only two of them, they cannot watch all the entrances and exits to the school.


“What happens is when we’re in the parking lot, it leaves the [back] exit wide open. So we don’t have enough help basically,” Trail said.


The committee discussed  additional staffing in its meeting as well, in the form of a parking attendant that would be in charge of letting students in and out of a closed off parking lot during the school day.


“One of the things we talked about was putting up a gate, and during the time when kids are supposed to be at school only allowing one way access to the parking lot,” Bagley said.


The arena and Buddy Echols Field hide a lot of the parking lot from view, giving students the ability to use their own discretion when driving. While many students still do abide by the rules, some use the blind spot to their rebellious advantage.


“I had students tell me about ‘oh yeah after school or eighth period I’m peeling out my tires by the tennis court, and I’m going out there, doing all this,’” Chamberlain said. “Apparently there was just a whole parking lot culture over there that they could just do whatever, nobody’s out there. That’s kind of scary, too.”