Anne Stuart, director of the Primrose School of Kennesaw North, said their security has multiple layers.
“We have coded access to our building. The parents receive a code when they enroll,” she said. “We ask them not to give that to other people.”
Stuart said a grandparent, aunt, uncle or other visitor should announce themselves at the front door.
“We prefer them to ring our doorbell so we can identify them,” Stuart said. “We ask for a picture ID with their name on it, like a driver’s license.”
A parent without the code may try to catch the door when another parent leaves, like Fluri allegedly did earlier this week in Athens, Stuart said.
“That could happen, but we have a member of our management team at or near the front at all times. It’s something we’re very conscious of and we try very hard to prevent,” she said.
There have been no incidents for at least the 14 years Stuart has been with the early learning facility, she said, thanks to tools like photos and phones.
“If there’s a custody battle, we ask the parent to let us know what’s going on and give us a picture of the person in question,” she said. “If they say, ‘I’m here to pick up Johnny,’ I would say, ‘Let me give the parent a call.’”
The day care also has a backup plan, Stuart said, starting with a judge’s order regarding who can have the child and when.
“If the parent becomes belligerent, I have the backing of the document and I can call the Kennesaw Police Department, who can be here in a matter of minutes,” she said.
Primrose is one of 800 members of the Alpharetta-based Georgia Child Care Association, a trade group whose executive director is Carolyn Salvador.
She said a combination of “best practices,” like signing children in and out, and hardware-oriented security measures, are keeping children safe.
“There are some advancements like keypad entry. Some have put in surveillance equipment. Exterior perimeters are locked and secure. There are other enhancements not even seen by parents,” Salvador said.
She said staff members such as teachers and front-desk personnel would challenge a noncustodial parent if one does slip in.
“It would be very odd for a stranger to come in and not get the third degree. They have to go through multiple hoops to be able to get out,” Salvador said. “You can’t say it would never happen, but they’re only going to get so far before they’re stopped.”
Other policies and procedures come from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which licenses 6,100 day cares and regulates the state pre-K program.
“We have to have fences around our play yards that are locked. We have to count the children when we move them from one part of the building to another,” Salvador said.
Department spokesman Reg Griffin said there are rules on the books to keep intruders off the premises, to keep up-to-date custodial records and to keep a list of adults authorized to pick up a particular child.
Employees may be more stringently screened, he said, if a new bill sponsored this week by Rep. Allen Peake of Macon gets traction.
“We have found that with only local or state background checks, you can actually miss felonies in other states,” Griffin said. “A national fingerprint background check would be much more thorough and safe.”