Should school’s master key system change after misconduct?

Students again secret access into campus classrooms

Videx+keys+are+a+possible+solution+to+this+master+key+dilemma. illustration/ Sophie Criscione

Videx keys are a possible solution to this ‘master key dilemma’.

Emerson Ford, assistant editor

   A lock and a key. 

   The safety and security provided by these modern-day essentials often lead people to trust that whatever they leave behind that lock will remain undisturbed until they return with the corresponding key. 

   Every now and then, however, someone will find a way around that lock.

   Granite Bay High School is no stranger to the extremes some students take to achieve a “perfect” transcript. From sharing answers to taking pictures of tests to copying work, students have devised strategies to achieve the best possible score with the least possible amount of work. 

   For some particularly cunning students, this includes working around the lock to gain access to classrooms and exams. A GBHS graduate, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had a master key last year and used it to enter at least one teacher’s classroom, where he photographed an exam.

   The master key at GBHS opens almost any door on campus.

   Theoretically, master keys are only in the possession of administrators, a few teachers and maintenance staff.

   According to the student who graduated last year, the master key has been passed down from graduating students to incoming seniors for three years. For the student who graduated last year, access to this key meant he was able to help a friend avoid studying for an Advanced Placement Calculus midterm. 

   “(The Wednesday) before midterms my friends hit me up,” the student  said. “Somehow one of them got a master key to the school – they got it from a janitor who dropped it or something like that. It has been passed down the past couple years. Whoever has it passes it down to a student from next year and on and on and on.

   “(My friends) said (they) saw where (their calculus teacher) keeps the tests, (and) it just sounded like a cool memory to have in high school, so I went with them. We were all in all black and unlocked the door and (went) in. I was the lookout (while they) ran in (and) took pictures of (the midterm).    

   “The key got stuck in the door when they were trying to leave, and the janitor was a couple classrooms down. Everyone was panicking, and it genuinely felt like ‘Mission Impossible.’”

   Scott Becker, the teacher whose classroom was infiltrated by students without permission, is disheartened by the dishonesty of recent students. 

   “My paranoia was already pretty high because of another kid who had (previously) broken into my room,” Becker said. “It was just a reminder to me that I have to keep everything under lock and key, even in the classroom. It’s a little disappointing because I find myself distrustful of all my students now, not knowing which ones would do it and which ones wouldn’t.”

   On the other hand, assistant principal Jessup McGregor is skeptical of the accuracy of the student story.

   “There are always rumors, you know, like legends,” McGregor said. “I don’t want to overreact to those kind of (stories), but at the same time, it (made me think that) maybe it’s time to redo and upgrade our locks.” 

   However, Becker is fairly certain of the plausibility of the claim. 

   “I decided after a week or so of not hearing anybody talking about it, that I needed to at least let people know,” Becker said. “I know it’s not a fabrication because the lock on (my) door has been jacked up for years. … I’m used to it … but I’ve seen admin and all kinds of people unlock my door and then not be able to get their key out of the lock. That’s not something you could just make up. You wouldn’t know that unless you had actually stuck a key in my lock and not been able to get it out.”

   As a result of the insecurity of the locks, both McGregor and Becker note that the next best course of action is to re-key the school with Videx keys. 

   Videx keys are electronic keys that are only able to open locks for which they are programmed. When a Videx key is used, information such as the time, location and key owner is uploaded to a database, increasing accountability and security. 

   Compromised Videx keys can have their unlocking capabilities revoked,  meaning any lost keys can be reprogrammed and made null.

   However, there are some drawbacks to installing Videx locks and keys. The cost to rekey the entire school with Videx would be significantly greater than with a standard lock and key. 

   Also, if the keys malfunction and are unable to open a certain door, teachers could be locked out of their own classrooms.

   Whether the keys change or not, students should be reminded that cheating at this scale is not worth the risk.

   “There’s very real consequences if caught,” McGregor said. “It’s not worth sacrificing your future over a grade, because you’re going to fail (academically) at some point. It might as well be today and then move on from that.”