Burlington parent launches volunteer school security program

BURLINGTON, Iowa  --  As a parent of two Burlington elementary school student, Cory Gohsman knows district resources are stretched thin. Like many other parents, he also worries about his kids' safety in an environment where school violence is increasingly common.

So he decided to do something about it himself. Gohsman started Volunteer Parent Protection,  a volunteer-based security company for the Burlington School District.

Gohsman is a father of four, with two kids at North Hill Elementary School. He decided to bring his idea to North Hill Principal Tim Cradic and Superintendent Pat Coen last year.  They agreed, and Gohsman now volunteers at North Hill every day.

He guards the doors, walks the halls, checks the perimeter, greets students, and looks for potential threats.

"Everybody likes to think nothing will ever happen," Gohsman said. "Everybody likes to think it won't happen in their town, but I am here trying to be proactive for the fact that we may have something happen here at this school."

The Burlington School District has two school resource officers for the high school and middle schools. Gohsman said the resource officers do visit the five elementary schools in the district, but he wanted constant safety for the kids. North Hill Principal Tim Cradic says there are 300 kids enrolled North Hill Elementary. Gohsman has an extensive security background, having worked for several security companies and owning a private investigation company.

"I just think the teachers should be able to teach and they shouldn't have to patrol the schools themselves," Gohsman said.

Gohsman hopes to recruit more parents to the program. The volunteers have to complete a background check for the district. They also are not armed. Gohsman says he only carries a radio to contact police if he sees a threat.

Gohsman is hosting a meeting for parents wanting to volunteer for the program. The meeting will be held on Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the North Hill cafeteria.