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Groveport school board discusses adding metal detectors

The school board is considering buying either metal detector wands or walk-through metal detectors to make sure no weapons enter the school.

GROVEPORT, Ohio — Two students were arrested at Groveport Madison High School following a fight on Jan. 31. Two months earlier, another fight at the high school prompted parents to hold a meeting with the school board about student safety.

Now, the school board is considering buying either metal detector wands or walk-through metal detectors to make sure no weapons enter the school.

During a school board meeting on Jan. 18, the deputy superintendent presented several metal detector options.

During a presentation, Deputy Superintendent Paul Smathers said the board is looking at 30 wands with 12 of them being at the high school.

The school board is considering spending thousands of dollars on increased security. A walk-through metal detector can cost more than $2,000 each, and there are questions about how many staff members it would take to run them.

“Kids have rights. You can’t just search a kid in front of other kids, so you got to take them back to a private room, so that’s some of the legal things we have work out,” Smathers said.

At least one school member didn’t seem convinced any of it would make kids safer.

“If it was guaranteed 100%, then I don’t care how much it costs, but it’s not guaranteed,” said one school board member.

Ken Trump is a school safety expert and has testified before Congress about school emergency preparedness. He runs the National School Safety and Security Services out of Cleveland.

“After we have a high profile incident, we don't want knee-jerk reactions and procedure and policy that create security theatre,” he said.

Trump says while metal detectors sound like a great way to detect weapons they don’t always catch them, and schools underestimate the manpower it takes to run them.

“Most school districts don't have security personnel. You end up taking away teachers, paraprofessional, support staff and administrators to try to run metal detectors, you lose that type of supervision with kids and families that can prevent these kinds of incidents. An investment in a properly trained school resource officer, following best practices for the SRO model, would be a much better investment,” he said.

In March of last year, Columbus City Schools purchased wands for every high school to reduce the threat of weapons in schools.

A school spokesperson tells 10TV, “During the random screenings, items confiscated included tobacco products, scissors, and other prohibited items. No weapons,” said Jaqueline Bryant, Director of Communications for Columbus City Schools.

The school also offers amnesty boxes to hand over prohibited items voluntarily.

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