Office of Safety, Security shares progress

Among notable updates and upgrades: more than 30 cameras have been installed in the hallways of the Edgehill Campus; a lightning detection system is on the roof of the Main Building; and students, a faculty member, and parents comprise a security advisory committee.
By Aerin Washington, Director of Safety and Security

I want to take a moment to update you all on the progress we have made over the past six months to better ensure the safety of our two campuses for the children and adults who teach and learn at USN. I have spent this time implementing various initiatives that were part of the 2022-2023 security audit as well as assessing the safety and security needs of the school beyond those initial recommendations.

Some of the progress we have made on the security audit initiatives are as follows:
  • The Office of Safety and Security is nearly 100% staffed. We have two School Resource Officers, four Community Service Officers, and will hire one more CSO within the next few weeks. School Resource Officers are certified police officers who are primarily assigned to a school and provide safety and security-related functions, including emergency response, safety training, traffic direction, and patrol functions. Community Service Officers are our non–sworn security officers that focus on observing and reporting but also have a strong customer service aspect to their position. They are so excited to be part of the USN community.  Feel free to stop any of our SROs or CSOs and say hello. If you have any questions or concerns, please email safetyandsecurity@usn.org, and an officer will be in touch with you within 24 hours. In the event of an emergency or urgent situation, we can be reached at 615-277-7380 (if calling from a USN phone dial ext. 1211). Calling this number will immediately reach the on-duty officers on their cell phones.
  • The access control project, which included USN becoming part of Vanderbilt University’s Secure Dores program, and installation of door contacts on all exterior doors with strategic deployment of audible alarms on egress-only doors, has been partially completed. Strategic exterior doors have been integrated into the Secure Dores program, which can be controlled by Vanderbilt University Police Department dispatch. The next phase that we are about to embark on is installing door contacts, which will allow us to be notified when an exterior door is propped or left open position.
  • This winter, we installed the Thor Guard lightning detection and alert system used at our River Campus also at our Edgehill Campus. When atmospheric energy begins to change and become volatile, Thor Guard sounds sirens audible within a few blocks to alert that there are dangerous weather conditions. Several school administrators monitor this system to ensure that we are keeping the students, faculty, staff, and visitors indoors when inclement weather is nearby. 
  • I have developed Visitor Management Guidelines, and we consistently use our visitor management system Raptor to screen visitors who enter the building and ensure vendors and visitors are wearing the proper ID badges.
  • Since November 27, 2023, doors at the school’s main entrance have remained locked during the school day. Although this state-required change was difficult for our campus culture, it has created a level of security that could only be accomplished by securing that entrance.
  • Vendors installed more than 30 cameras in hallways during Spring Break. They are still being configured and will allow authorities to monitor situations in real-time and provide guidance to on-site law enforcement, in the event of an emergency.
In addition to these changes the Office of Safety and Security has made the following changes to our daily operations to provide an excellent level of security for the USN community:
  • All USN SROs earned National Association of School Resource Officers certification on March 8, 2024.
  • VUPD Dispatch checks all USN cameras at least three times daily to ensure they are operating correctly.
  • We have added individuals of concern into our visitor management system to assist with centralizing and streamlining notifications of matters including orders of protection, no contact orders, and trespassed individuals.
Finally, I am able to share the creation of a volunteer-based Safety and Security Advisory Committee. The purpose of this committee of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni is to “advise the Director of Safety and Security on various safety-related issues at University School of Nashville. This committee is charged with assisting in prioritizing various safety-related projects, as well as developing some safety programming for various groups within the USN community.” Its first meeting took place Thursday, March 21. The individuals serving on this committee are:
  • Anna Garmezy, Parent '36
  • Alexis Guevara '26
  • Wilson Hubbell, HS Science Teacher and Parent '28, '32
  • Richard Littlehale, Parent '26
  • Lauren Max, Parent '36
  • Sarah Rubin ’04, Parent '36 and Alum '04
  • Jack Wellons '24
Thank you to the entire USN community for your cooperation, understanding, and roles in implementing these safety and security initiatives. 
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USN Mission: 
University School of Nashville models the best educational practices. In an environment that represents the cultural and ethnic composition of Metropolitan Nashville, USN fosters each student’s intellectual, artistic, and athletic potential, valuing and inspiring integrity, creative expression, a love of learning, and the pursuit of excellence.