An on again, off again intercom system has raised security concerns at on Chattanooga school. Today we learn one Hamilton County school system lacks an essential communications tool.
Classrooms are locked and hallways are quiet at Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy. While it's fall break for students, administrators and staff are here busily working to resolve a major problem. For the last month, this school has been relying on an unreliable intercom.
Administrators tell me it hasn't been working properly for quite some time. Even though they've filed a request for repair, Hamilton county schools has only provided four walkies-talkies.
In a lock down situation these walkies-talkies would be the only form of communication. Principal Cherrye Robertson says "safety is our number one priority here at Calvin Donaldson. Walkies-talkies are our back-up system the intercom is our main form of communication throughout the building."
Four walkies-talkies are supposed to be covering 15 classrooms and almost 400 students.
When we called the Hamilton County Schools Maintenance department a spokesperson told me they haven't fixed the intercom, because a repair would leave the school without any option in an emergency. He explained figuring out what's wrong and repairing it would take longer than he can say.
Stacy Swafford, an Electrical Foreman for Hamilton County, tells me "the intercom system is a must. We never, unless it's just a absolute have to, we never leave a school without an intercom."
The electrical engineer says that for the day the system was working, but the principal says the problem seems to always return once classes are in session. "Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't and I felt like with it working like that I had a 50/50 chance of it working."
The Hamilton County Maintenance spokesperson tells me that they do realize that this problem hasn't been resolved. But, they are unsure when there may be a permanent fix.
by Mikaya Thurmond