FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. _ Metal detectors are planned for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this fall, and a new schools safety report recommends considering them throughout Broward County schools.
The recommendation is one of 100 ways to help keep students alive outlined by a task force created in the wake of the Feb. 14 massacre at the Parkland school that left 17 people dead.
Other ideas include installing higher fences, ensuring any gates and entrances are closed or monitored, reviewing the district’s PROMISE program and enforcing disciplinary rules.
The district sent a letter to Stoneman Douglas parents Friday saying that the district will start using portable metal detectors at the Parkland school this fall. This was originally planned to start shortly after spring break, but district officials said they needed more time to figure out logistical issues of how many gates would be open and how to avoid having lines that snake outside at the start of the school day.
The task force “strongly recommends” that the district consider metal detectors countywide, but also said there may be some challenges to ensure they’re being used consistently and fairly.
“The physical deployment of these must be uniform across the district,” the report says, recommending the district study how the detectors are used in other districts with large schools. The report said the district should come up with procedures on how to use the alarms with, while showing respect for students’ privacy and personal belongings.
Conducting random searches with wands could raise concerns about effectiveness and fairness, the report says.
The task force, commissioned by the League of Cities, included Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan, Broward County Mayor Beam Furr, School Board member Patti Good and April Schentrup and Max Schachter, who both lost children in the massacre.
Among the other recommendations:
_ The district should install window coverings on doors to conceal kids in schools.
_ The height of outdoor fences should be increased.
_ School safety plans should be updated by schools in the first month of classes. The plans should be delivered to municipal law enforcement who should acknowledge the review.
_ All classroom doors must remain locked at all times (the current doors only lock from the hallway, not from inside of classroom).
_ Within the first two weeks of school, schools should practice a lockdown drill with school resource officer participation, in addition to fire and tornado drills, and a Code Red (critical incident) drill every semester.
_ All staff and students should wear ID badges.
_ Better marketing and funding are needed for district mental health programs.
_ An external audit of school discipline should be conducted to ensure it’s being enforced fairly and consistently. Questions have arisen about whether the shooter at Stoneman Douglas was appropriately disciplined for various infractions.
_ The district’s PROMISE program should be reviewed to better track repeat offenders. The program, which stands for Preventing Recidivism Through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education, was created in 2013 to provide alternatives to arrests, The district has claimed a nearly 90 percent success rate, but the South Florida Sun Sentinel discovered that students are not considered repeat offenders unless they commit the exact same offense in the exact same year.
_ School staff must supervise all open entrances during school open and closing times.
_ All classrooms should have an intercom button and landline phone to alert school/office of critical incidents in the building. If they do not have these, they should have a radio/walkie-talkie to communicate with school/office.
_ After school or summer activities must have a security plan in place, with safety responsibilities assigned to a specific trained staff member.
_ No public area should be left unmonitored by cameras.
_ Sports and summer programs must have a security plan in place, with safety responsibilities assigned to specific supervisory personnel. All responsible supervisory personnel should be required to undergo a live or video security training session.
_ Schools should have a buzzer system to better control access to visitors.
This article provided by NewsEdge.