A Job Needed Now More Than Ever


Megan Riddle

Post Uvalde, the district has hired safety monitors to ensure the high schools have another level of protection.

The 29 U.S. school shootings that have occurred in 2022 are sparking action from many students, parents and teachers involved in school communities. Before the new school year began, Mansfield held its yearly safety and security meeting, where a committee proposed having some sort of security guard on campus. After being reviewed and approved, each of the six MISD high schools are welcoming a new person to their campus. Wayne Carlson is Lake Ridge’s Campus Safety Specialist, and the first person to hold this position at the school.

“I am a father, I’m a grandfather. Thinking about their safety ballooned into, ‘I want to try to help all the kids be as safe as they can.’ My previous job, I retired after 30 years. Uvalde happened, and that just affected me. So I was looking for anything that might offer help. Here it is, the campus safety role,” said Carlson.

Carlson’s primary responsibility is to protect the school by checking for propped doors and anyone that shouldn’t be in the building. A typical day at work for him entails surveilling hallways and stairwells, making sure everyone is wearing an ID and checking for anything considered a safety hazard. Carlson feels he is well suited for this job considering his background as a Safety and Risk Manager for a transportation company. He takes his new job seriously, and won’t hesitate to stop students who aren’t following rules or aren’t in class when they should be.

“I will ask if I see you in the hallway without an ID because we don’t want strangers in the school. I’m checking propped doors, IDs and then stairwells and hallways for what I call wandering. Some kids may not want to be in class at that time, so they’ll wander the hallway. We’ll stop you if you’re in the hallways and you don’t have a pass. I’m going to want to know what you’re doing there,” said Carlson.

If Carlson finds any potential safety hazards, he can take pictures and report them to the Lake Ridge administration or send them in for a work order depending on urgency.

“I have the ability to take a picture of it, and I do have access to your school’s network. If it’s a safety issue, and it’s mechanical or some device is not working properly, I can take a picture of it and send it in for a work order. If it is a safety issue of a different nature, then I can talk to the assistant principals and they will address it,” said Carlson.

Every day, Ashley Alloway, Lake Ridge’s Principal, also puts effort into making sure students understand the importance of the school’s safety guidelines. School safety is a concern many people, including Carlson and Alloway, have, so they both support the protocols MISD has added this year. Alloway says the best way to prevent any fear that students may have when coming to school is to constantly update rules to accommodate whatever issues may arise.

“[Safety] is my top priority. A student can’t learn if they don’t feel safe in their environment. Once we can ensure safety and security then we can turn around and make sure they feel comfortable learning inside the classrooms. If your mind is always on, ‘I wonder if this school is safe, if something bad could happen to me,’ can you focus on a lesson? It’s hard to focus if all these other things are pulling your mind away from learning,” said Alloway.

While Alloway and Carlson believe the addition of a safety specialist was strongly influenced by the school shooting in Uvalde, there were other factors that went into the decision to bring this role to Mansfield. Surrounding districts like Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Duncanville have significant security guard services. Arlington, where Alloway used to work, has had security guards on campus for more than 10 years. Other districts are ramping up security, and Alloway recognizes why Lake Ridge is doing the same to avoid any safety issues.

“I don’t think it’s just Uvalde. I think we’ve seen this all over, even with what happened last year at Timberview High School. We all had to step back, take a look about what we were doing, how we were doing it, and make adjustments because we can’t get better by staying stagnant. There’s no perfect safety and security situation. We have 18 entries and exits. We’ve got between 2,900 and 3,000 people here. But the more people that we have watching out for our safety, I think it makes us feel safer,” said Alloway.