Districts respond to shootings, adopt stricter security measures
(Nev.) Amid a recent spate of gun violence on school grounds throughout the country, districts in Nevada and Florida are implementing policies to tighten security measures in an effort to reduce the number of on-campus shootings.
In Florida's Marion County Public Schools, high school students will soon be required to wear provided identification badges following an incident in April in which a former student shot a current student in the ankle through a classroom door.
And Clark County School District in Nevada–the fifth largest school district in the country–middle and high school students will be subject to random searches.
As of last week, Clark County superintendent Jesus Jara said the district has confiscated 11 firearms from students–nearly double from this time last year. He said that he hopes the new random search program, which will “begin soon,” will deter students from bringing weapons on campus.
“Our goal as educators is always to discover concerns before they become problems by developing strong relationships,” Jara said in a statement. “This random search program is just one strategy we are employing to improve school safety.”
Jara announced the policy last month following a handful of violent acts on campuses throughout the school system, including one instance in September, in which an 18-year-old high school student was shot and killed.
The policy is a point of contention among parents, students and school staff–some of whom have expressed support for the plan, while others have argued it invades student privacy and creates a sense of distrust among students and administrators.
Under the plan, a computer program will randomly generate the name of a middle of high school and a corresponding classroom number to be searched, at which point, administrators will search students’ belongings and scan each child with a hand-held metal detector.
Random searches may also occur as students enter the selected school in a single-file line, dictated by a number that the program will also generate. So, for instance, if the program selects the number seven, every seventh student who enters campus would be searched.
Some Clark County school leaders have announced they will implement additional safety measures, such as installing audio and video door buzzers to better control who can enter campus during school hours, or implementing new visitor identification badge protocols.
In Florida, Marion County Public Schools will soon require all high school students to wear visible ID badges following a shooting in April, in which a former Forest High School student walked onto campus with a shotgun in a guitar case before firing the gun through a classroom door, injuring one student.
Sky Bouche, 19, then surrendered to one of his former teachers and was detained by the school resource officer.
Currently, all visitors at schools are screened at the front desk and are issued a badge, but someone who looks like a student could potentially slip through.
The new badges, which must be worn above the waist, will help school staff ensure anyone without a lanyard is unable to get inside the school building, Marion County School Board Chairwoman Beth McCall told local reporters.
The district is also installing perimeter fencing and placing a school resource officer at each of its campuses.