Tag Archives: School Safety

Metal Detectors at YOUR School

To have metal detectors or not to have metal detectors at our schools, that is the question.

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

School Safety – Where are we?
The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has already taken numerous steps to address safety issues on our campuses. In 2016, our schools upgraded their security systems (including cameras). Additionally, enhanced web filters were added to our technology platform to alert district officials of Google searches involving words that might pose threats to the school environment (bombs, suicide, murder, guns, kill, etc. are only a few of the words included in our filter).
The new construction of school buildings now includes roll down doors that help to increase security if a non-authorized individual enters the school premises. The Public Safety Department has also purchased mobile hand metal detectors to use in middle and high schools for random searches when threats may be suspected.
DCSD is ramping up the presence of Public Safety Department Sergeants and Safe School Personnel in schools. To assist with curtailing weapons and illegal substances on school grounds, the Public Safety Department now includes the K-9 Unit.
Walk Through Metal Detectors
On Monday, DCSD Board of Education narrowly approved a pilot program to purchase 20 walk through metal detectors for $150,000. This does not include trained personnel to run them.
The pilot will place 4 metal detectors at 5 high school sites:

  • Cross Keys High School- Region 1
  • Lakeside High School- Region 2.
  • Stone Mountain High School- Region 3
  • Martin Luther King Jr. High School- Region 4
  • Towers High School- Region 5

Is this Style Over Substance? I have quite a few concerns about the efficacy and logistics of having 4 metal detectors at a school with numerous trailers and over 2,000 students with computers.
I thought the conversations at the board meeting were fascinating. Two things stuck out: 1) The administration doesn’t have a plan for how this is going to work. 2) The most important thing to the board members in the South is that the schools in the North get metal detectors.
I’ve cut and posted the discussions at the bottom.

A Lakeside High School parent sent me this email concisely delineating the issues many people have with metal detectors at our schools.

From: Lakeside High School Parent
Subject: Metal Detectors – School Safety Pilot Program

While I am happy that the BOE is addressing school safety measures, I have some concerns about the recently-approved metal detectors pilot program.
My children attend Lakeside High School, one of the schools selected for this program. As you can see in the chart below from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service https://www.ncjrs.gov/school/178265_8.pdf, with 4 metal detectors in a school of over 2,000 students, hundreds of students will be lined up each morning, waiting to pass through one of four metal detectors.
How will the DeKalb County School District be addressing the logistics involved with this pilot program to add metal detectors? What additional resources will be provided to the Lakeside Administration to allow them to carry out this program effectively?

Where will these metal detectors be placed? Lakeside’s main building, where most students enter from the bus lane, was built in the 1960s with low ceilings, narrow hallways, and a very small “lobby” area between the counseling and main/attendance offices.
How will metal detectors impact the ability of students and staff to exit the building safely and efficiently during a fire or other emergency? Will the Fire Marshall be supervising the placement of the new equipment and assessing the potential impact on safety?
Where will students wait to pass through metal detectors on rainy days or when the temperature is at or below freezing?
Will there be conveyor belts or tables for students to place their chrome books, keys, cellphones, etc…? Will there be space provided for students to repack their belongings before entering hallways?
How will delays in passing through the metal detectors impact first period instructional time? Will students be permitted to enter the building earlier to minimize delays? Will teachers be required to report to school earlier to help monitor students?
Will students who enter school after the tardy bell rings have to report to the cafeteria for a tardy pass, which is the current protocol? Will tardy students be subject to routine disciplinary action, such as before or after school detention? Who will staff additional detentions?
If SROs and our school Police Officer are monitoring metal detectors, who will direct traffic on Briarcliff Road, where there is a dangerous left hand turn to enter the school and no crosswalk for students who walk to school? With the SROs occupied, who will monitor students in the bus lanes, parking lots, cafeteria, and hallways? You might recall that I shared with you a video of a fistfight that took place at LHS last Fall. Will schools in this pilot program be provided with increased funding for additional SROs?
What about the students in portable classrooms? Will they be required to pass through a metal detector to re-enter the building? If so, will their instructional time be cut short to allow them to reach their next class on time?
Due to congestion in the hallways, some students have found it faster to walk outside to reach their next period classes. Will this be discontinued? How will the BOE address overcrowded hallways?
Many students currently eat lunch outside, as there are not enough seats for them in the cafeteria. Will they be required to pass through a metal detector to re-enter the school?
What about events held before or after school? Will metal detectors be in place and monitored for students who arrive early for morning tutorials and clubs? How about students and parents who return to school for meetings, concerts, plays, practices, and athletic events? Will they also pass through detectors?
How was Lakeside selected for this pilot program? Have there been incidents of weapons in the school? Have there been more credible safety threats at LHS than at other schools?
Given the many questions surrounding this pilot program, I hope the BOE will encourage the school system staff to respond to logistical concerns ASAP.
I also hope the BOE will address the concerns raised by the LHS Parent Council, PTSA, Lakeside Cluster Summit, Parents, Students, and community members, united in our opposition to plans to build a 38-classroom addition at Lakeside. Those of us familiar with the Lakeside campus know that the proposed addition is not a good solution to overcrowding and will likely lead to more disruptions to instruction and complications to school safety.
We need more small high schools, where staff members know their students and can create caring communities that foster success, not mega-schools with multiple building additions crammed onto small, land-locked properties.
Please request that DCSD provide viable alternatives to the proposed high school additions and answers to community concerns regarding the logistics of the metal detector pilot program. Our children are counting on you.




School Safety – What’s the Plan?
February 25, 2018 – Six people were arrested at one school in one day in two different incidents. What’s the plan to keep our schools safe?

School Safety – What's the Plan?

DeKalb Schools incident report from last month …

Students at [a DeKalb Schools High School] were placed on lockdown this morning as a result of two separate incidents that occurred on campus today.
In the first instance, DCSD Public Safety officers were called to the school after a report of a weapon on the premises. Two males, one a student and the other a non-student were apprehended and arrested. The non-student was found in possession of a firearm. Reports of an armed adult on campus are so far unsubstantiated.
The second incident at the same school that morning involved a stolen car that was tracked to the parking lot by DeKalb County Police. Following a foot chase, four individuals were apprehended and arrested. The theft occurred off school grounds. The two incidents were not related.
A total of six people were arrested on school property this morning.

I get updates like this far too often. What’s the plan to keep our schools safe?
I would like to hear from students, parents, teachers, administrators and the community at large.

I heard Bill Maher say on Friday “Schools that look like prisons have students that are more likely to go to prison. There are high schools that look like a college and those students are more likely to go to college. We gotta get all the schools to look like colleges.” As lovely as the thought is, it’s another useless platitude.
Do we want our high schools to look like and operate like prisons and be secure? Here’s what we’re looking at.

K-9s (“canine”), – K-9s like Rex and Rocky, tasked with locating drugs and weapons, are part of a new push for public safety in DeKalb Schools. They can smell dangerous substances left behind for more than a day. They can tell if an individual has handled and even used a firearm based solely on scent.
Metal Detectors – DeKalb Schools’ increased safety initiative also includes a pilot program with metal detectors at numerous high schools.
Fences – Numerous principals in DeKalb are contemplating fencing to enhance campus security. High schools are vulnerable at their many points of egress. Fencing can limit that exposure.
School Resource Officers (SROs) – Officers make roughly $45K plus benefits. They are sworn law enforcement officers, fully armed, and are responsible for providing security and crime prevention services at our schools.
Smaller Schools
The research is clear that smaller schools have less violence and produce better academic results. The research indicates that smaller schools tend to be safer and are generally better places for students to learn. Graduation rates are generally higher, greater teacher satisfaction, small schools are more flexible, there is less one size fits all, etc…
Allow Teachers to Carry Firearms – If our SROs can be trained to carry firearms, why can’t some teachers? Floyd County Georgia BOE rep, Jay Shell, asks on Facebook, “Is it time that we partner with our local law enforcement agencies to train our educators on how to use firearms?”. Alabama State Rep. Will Ainsworth plans on introducing a bill to the Alabama State Legislature that would allow trained, certified teachers to carry weapons on school campuses.
DeKalb Schools Superintendent Green is not a fan of gun toting teachers. “There’s training to be a teacher, and then there’s training to be a law enforcement officer,” DeKalb County School District Superintendent Steve Green said in a statement Thursday. “Both are unique careers with a specific purpose. We believe our teachers can be most effective by focusing on the task at hand — deep teaching and learning — while the district and its schools work closely with law enforcement on a collaboration of undercover and uniformed officers.”
Parents: it’s time to STEP UP, says a Florida Teacher of the Year
Within the last couple of years, DeKalb Schools has created a Student Support and Intervention Division to provide “Wrap Around Services” and address the diverse needs of students and families. The school district has also flooded failing schools with paraprofessionals (parapros), social workers, teacher coaches, etc … DeKalb Schools has added over 1,000 school house full/part time employees across the district since 2014.
Kelly Guthrie Raley, a Florida middle school Teacher of the Year, posted on Facebook this commentary to parents:

Until we, as a country, are willing to get serious and talk about mental health issues, lack of available care for the mental health issues, lack of discipline in the home, horrendous lack of parental support when the schools are trying to control horrible behavior at school (oh no! Not MY KID. What did YOU do to cause my kid to react that way?), lack of moral values, and yes, I’ll say it-violent video games that take away all sensitivity to ANY compassion for others’ lives, as well as reality TV that makes it commonplace for people to constantly scream up in each others’ faces and not value any other person but themselves, we will have a gun problem in school. Our kids don’t understand the permanency of death anymore!!!
I grew up with guns. Everyone knows that. But you know what? My parents NEVER supported any bad behavior from me. I was terrified of doing something bad at school, as I would have not had a life until I corrected the problem and straightened my ass out. My parents invaded my life. They knew where I was ALL the time. They made me have a curfew. They made me wake them up when I got home. They made me respect their rules. They had full control of their house, and at any time could and would go through every inch of my bedroom, backpack, pockets, anything! Parents: it’s time to STEP UP!
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