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Lakeland To Look At Metal Detectors For High School

Goodfellow AFB

The recent mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla., high school – and the ones before it -- have left some school boards questioning whether they have done enough to protect their charges.

The question arose Monday at the Lakeland Union High School board of education meeting, where board president Ed Schaub suggested metal detectors might be needed at the school’s main entrance to screen for contraband. “I think it’s at a point that we do need to think seriously about doing something here,” he said. Board member Barb Peck didn’t disagree, but said more research is needed, including asking other districts that have metal detectors about their experiences. The business community is another possible source of information, she said. “In order to have a really informed discussion we really should look at those businesses that have metal detectors,” she said. “Find out them if they think they are working, what are the pros, what are the cons, what are the unintended consequences.”

Critics of metal detectors in schools point to their purchase cost and ongoing costs (someone has to monitor the flow of people pass the detectors in case one gives an alert); that there are better strategies, such as increased emphasis on mental health services; and to the negative image such devices project.

The school already has a secured front entrance consisting of double doors. The second set of doors leading into the main building is locked once students arrive for school. Visitors must then show identification and give a reason for their visit before a staff person behind a bulletproof window unlocks the second set of doors. There is also an armed school resource officer from the local police department at the school during normal school hours. Fellow board member Jon Berg said there were “pros and cons” of having metal detectors at schools. The issue should be part of a broader discussion on overall safety concerns, he said in agreement with Peck.

Principal/Administrator Jim Bouche said “a taxpayer” e-mailed him offering to help fund the cost of metal detectors at the school. He plans to meet with the individual to learn more about the proposal. “We’ve had some of the people that come in to enjoy our pool in the morning wonder about their safety and security before school,” he said. “Students have come and talked to me about safety before and after school when it comes to activity buses, and practices, and being by themselves. “There’s a bigger discussion that I would like to have a few more people involved with. We haven’t talked about (metal detectors) yet with the principal’s team. We will be talking about this pertaining to students and staff.”

In the meantime, Bouche said, he would like “feedback from students and staff” on the issue. The board took no action, deciding to wait until more information and comments were received.

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