Local man's 'School Safe' locks now in more than 500 schools

SEATTLE -- After news of deadly shootings on campuses and seeing what teachers go through during lockdowns, a local man decided a better lock might be needed for school doors.

Tom Kuehn, of Tumwater, a former maintenance director for the Olympia School District, developed what’s called the School Safe – a 3-inch metal device  that allows a door to be secured from inside of a classroom.  He told the News Tribune of Tacoma that he came up with the concept for School Safe during the 2003-04 school year.

"One of the greatest concerns that teachers had is that they had to go outside the classroom in order to lock their doors in an emergency, like a lockdown,” Kuehn said. “That stuck with me and went around in my brain for quite a while.  And I finally decided that I could maybe make something that would do that."

Since the tragic shootings at the elementary school in Sandy Hook, Conn., Kuehn’s lock has been installed in more than 500 schools nationwide, including at Discovery Elementary in Milton.

“Teachers had to look for keys  and go out in the hallways if we needed to lock down,” said Discovery principal Julie Bartlett. “With these (locks), all they have to do is flip the switch, the door is locked.”

The simple locks cost about $10 apiece and can be installed in a day, Kuehn said.