Arizona Autism Charter Schools Deploys Flexible Electronic Access with Switch™ Tech
Diana Diaz-Harrison, Founder and Executive Director of Arizona Autism Charter School, Inc. (AZACS), was on a mission to create a cutting-edge school exclusively to educate students with autism and related disorders.
“I have a child with autism, and I had trouble finding a school,” said Diaz-Harrison. “Typical public and private schools were not able to meet his needs. With the support of parents, grandparents, and a wide range of professionals, I envisioned a school that would be results driven for kids no matter where they fall on the autism spectrum.”
Located in Phoenix, AZACS opened in 2014 as Arizona’s first tuition-free, public charter school focused on students with autism spectrum disorder. It has since become an international model on best practices to help all students become more engaged with learning.
AZACS moved into a new state-of-the-art facility, which was constructed as its “dream school,” in 2020. The building is an abandoned art gallery that was gutted and rebuilt to help AZACS push the boundaries of education. The school had purchased all doors, frames, and locks, but hit a barrier when it wanted to install electronic access.
“This school is cutting edge and innovative in everything we do,” said Dan McCarty, AZACS Operations and IT Director. “From a security standpoint, we needed an electronic lock solution that would allow us to give and take access hourly or daily to accommodate both the educational needs of our students and the observation needs of our researchers who are typically in special research hubs where they can see the students without disturbing the classroom environment. We hit a point of no return to run cabling and had to figure out a way to add wireless electronic access.”
Solution – BEST Switch Tech and Switch Core Lock
A subcontractor suggested to McCarty that he consider dormakaba’s BEST Switch Tech Platform, including the Switch Core lock, which offers a digital replacement for mechanical small format interchangeable cores (SFICs).
“Switch Tech was exactly the kind of product we were looking for,” said McCarty. “It’s an innovative, cutting-edge system. Competitive products require cabling or have a short battery life. Switch works everywhere and has the ability to scale and expand as we do. We can keep adding it to new doors and it won’t be difficult to put into our system.”
AZACS uses Lenel OnGuard® access control, which directly integrates with Switch Tech software to provide a seamless end-to-end solution. To date, 60 Switch Tech cores have been installed on classroom, research hub, and administrative office doors across the campus area and a cabinet in the nurse’s office. McCarty can control access and track who enters and exits. He has plans to install additional cores as AZACS grows.
“I communicated my vision to Dan about the research hubs,” said Diaz-Harrison. “I wanted them to be able to be accessed by researchers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, program managers, and all professionals who help kids. I also wanted a full transparency model where parents can come in and observe. This requires different levels of access to different rooms. Dan researched this technology and was able to make this vision a reality.”
McCarty uses the Switch Tech admin tool on his phone to access information and stats via the app. He can also grant or deny access from the field quickly, an important necessity since he moves across all parts of the AZACS campus frequently and is rarely in his office.
“It’s good to get tracking information and change credentials on the fly,” said McCarty. “It’s been pretty seamless.”
The Switch Tech platform extends electronic access control to previously impractical applications. Switch Core works wherever SFICs do, including cylindrical, mortise and other locks by BEST, Sargent, Yale, Corbin Russwin, Schlage and more. It is ideal for retrofitting electronic control into existing doors on interior rooms, closets, cabinets, and cases. Installation takes just minutes and requires only a changeout of the existing core to Switch Core.
Switch reduces mechanical key management for facility managers.
10% of the cost of a hardwired access control door.
Strength in the lock to withstand heavy-duty use.
Easily installed in a wide range of applications with almost any existing SFIC lock.
Switch Tech credentials can be managed remotely using the app.
Integrates with existing access control software.
Switch can be added strategically where and as needed when site needs expand.
Switch reduces mechanical key management (lost, stolen, new keys) for facility managers.
Installation takes minutes with no advanced knowledge (handing or door thickness) needed.