BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Handheld metal detectors will begin to be utilized at public schools throughout Broward County, Superintendent Vickie Cartwright announced Wednesday evening in a video message to parents and guardians.
Cartwright said the screenings will be random and will be conducted by trained security personnel in two schools a day five days a week.
They tried it Wednesday in three different classrooms at Silver Trail Middle School in Pembroke Pines.
Most parents of students at Western High School in Davie are in favor of the new initiative.
“If it’s up to me, I want my kid to be safe. That means that if his bookbag has to get checked or they gotta get padded down, it’s a small price to pay for them to come home,” Anthony Maugere said.
“I don’t find that a comforting thought. It seems to me if you have metal detectors at the door as you do at the airport or something, that should be quite sufficient,” Jay Archer said.
According to Cartwright, 151 weapons have been found at Broward public schools this year alone.
“Schools and classrooms are randomly identified using a computerized tool, which eliminates any bias in the selection process,” Cartwright said. “The screening includes all students in a selected classroom and their belongings.”
Please watch this message from @browardschools Superintendent @suptvcartwright regarding the use of handheld metal detectors in schools. pic.twitter.com/mJp6kRsavN— Broward Schools (@browardschools) March 16, 2022
The announcement comes after the School Board discussed the issue at a January meeting.
School Board member and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School parent Lori Alhadeff said at the meeting that while she knows the policy couldn’t have prevented the deadly attack at MSD, which claimed her daughter’s life, it is a good tool for the district to have.
“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 MSD shooting, agrees.
“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.
The superintendent ended her message by asking parents to speak with their children about the consequences of bringing weapons to school, including expulsion and criminal charges.