In an effort to protect students and staff within the Broward County Public School district, handheld metal detectors will now be used on school property.
Superintendent Vickie Cartwright made the announcement in a video message on Wednesday.
“The safety of our students and staff is our district’s highest priority. As part of our commitment to ensure secure learning environments, we are introducing an additional layer of protection for our schools district wide. We will be using handheld metal detectors during the school day to conduct random screenings in our schools,” she said.
Cartwright said the screenings will be random and will be conducted by trained security personnel.
“Schools and classrooms are randomly identified using a computerized tool, which eliminates any bias in the selection process,” she added.
The screening also includes all students in a selected classroom and their belongings.
The issue of using metal detectors in schools was first discussed at a school board meeting in January. Several members of the board, including loved ones of victims of the Parkland shooting, had shown support for the policy.
School board member and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School parent Lori Alhadeff said while she believes metal detectors would not have prevented the Parkland shooting, it is still a good policy for the Broward County district to implement. “We have to find a way to prevent the guns and weapons from getting into our schools,” she said.
“As a parent, as a mother with two kids in our schools, it definitely adds a layer of comfort to know that we are going to be doing wanding and checking to make sure there are not guns or weapons in kids backpacks or on them, and this is a layer of protection to make our schools safer.”
School board member Debbi Hixon, whose husband was killed during the shooting, also supported the policy.
“It’s a deterrent so someone’s going to know that there is the chance that they’re going to get caught,” Hixon said.
The policy states that metal detectors may be used to screen people for firearms and other objects which are prohibited on school district property. It also says anyone who refuses to submit to a search will be subject to disciplinary action or can be kicked off campus.
“The goal is to ensure safer learning environments by detecting weapons and other dangerous objects on our campuses, and ultimately deterring students from bringing these items to school,” Cartwright said.
She also asked parents and guardians to speak with their children about the consequences of taking weapons to school, including expulsion and criminal charges.