Metal Detectors Likely Coming To All Duval County Public High Schools

Oct 17, 2018
Originally published on October 17, 2018 11:15 am

Updated 10/16 at 1:30 p.m.

Duval County public high schools will probably have walk-through metal detectors for checking students for weapons later this school year, according to the district's police director Micheal Edwards at a school board workshop Tuesday.

The recommendation was made after security risk assessments of district schools, including principal feedback identifying their schools’ most vulnerable areas.

More cameras with better resolution and walk-through metal detectors in high schools were determined to be most needed.

“Our goal is to quadruple the amount [of cameras schools] have,” Superintendent Diana Greene said. “The average school only has about 16 cameras. Our high school campuses have thousands of square footage.”

State lawmakers passed school safety legislation after February’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. It dedicates $99 million to hardening districts’ schools. Duval is planning to apply for some of the state funding to get the cameras, metal detectors and other improvements.

“There are some other things that are also priorities but right now we’re not at liberty to share what those are for security reasons,” Greene said.

The district has to apply for the grant money by December 1 and it’s expected to be awarded to districts no later than January.

Depending on how much state funding Duval County gets, high schools may have to be prioritized for walk-through metal detectors.

Edwards said schools most likely will have a metal detector at one entrance and other entrances may have metal detector wands, which schools already have. The district is in the process of replacing ones that are broken.

Edwards said schools will also implement random wanding throughout the day.

School board members had a lot of questions for who would be monitoring the metal detectors and how the process would work. A lot of that hasn’t been figured out, because the plan wasn’t supposed to be made public yet.

Edwards originally talked about the plans at Monday evening’s safety meeting at Raines High School. At Tuesday’s workshop board members arrived confused as to why they hadn’t been clued in.

Greene said there’s a school board workshop scheduled for next month where the grant application would be discussed. At that meeting, board members will be able to suggest changes to the district's grant as prior to its submission, although requests are supposed to be based on needs principals identified. Greene apologized to board members about their finding out about the plan through news articles.

As far as a timeline, Greene said each school will have an individualized plan and it may take many months for some schools to get walk-through detectors.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly implied that the district will definitely buy the safety equipment. Tuesday school officials clarified that it will be going through the grant application process.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.

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