FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County Public Schools board members approved the implementations of metal detectors across district schools during a meeting.

Wednesday’s meeting, taking place at the Kathleen C. Wright Building in Fort Lauderdale, comes in the wake of alarming incidents that have escalated concerns about security.

School officials, including BCPS Superintendent Dr. Peter Licata, board members Dr. Allen Zeman and Brenda Fam, and safety director James La Rosa reacted during the meeting regarding the new measures.

“It’s not the end all, be all, answer all, it really isn’t, but it does keep that child who’s bringing in a weapon from home or from the neighborhood,” said Licata. “Remember, we don’t have them on campus; they come in from outside. It does give them twice thought of, ‘Wait a second, I don’t want to go to jail or ruin my life by bringing a weapon on campus.”

The board finalized a plan to install metal detectors at 31 district high schools and six K-12 centers. The initiative is set to kick off with a pilot program this summer at two schools, laying out the groundwork for a broader application that encompass 31 campuses throughout Broward County.

J.P. Taravella High School and Charles W. Flanagan High School are the two schools that will be in the pilot program starting in the summer.

Speaking with reporters, Licata said the eight other schools will be decided on in the next two weeks.

“It’s long overdue in my eyes,” he said. “This was one of the tasks I did that I personally wanted to do.”

Some students said the idea is smart.

“I think that’s very smart, because that’s going to prevent all of, like, in-school weapons and stuff,” said one student.

District members moved quickly to implement these new measures after two disturbing events in January where loaded firearms and illicit substances were discovered on school premises, notably at Deerfield Beach High School and Stranahan High School, leading to the arrest of three students.

“Our children don’t feel safe, our parents don’t think that our kids are safe,” said Zeman. “This is a critical step in the right direction.”

“We’ve all looked into this, we’ve done the research,” explained La Rosa in the board meeting. “I think we’re all pretty confident in what we have before you today.”

In an effort to prevent such incidents, the district had previously intensified its security measures by introducing random checks.

“Broward County Schools Police wants to remind you about our random metal detection screening program, which is intended to decrease the number of weapons and dangerous objects brought onto school campuses,” stated an educational video from the district’s police department.

The meeting addressed the procurement of CEIA OpenGate systems for the initial 10 schools, with a budget of $540,000 set aside for this purpose. The selection of this system follows a review by the district after its usage across dozens of Florida school districts, with an equal amount considering its adoption.

But not all board members were on board with the idea.

“I can’t condone a test pilot of something that I haven’t seen the car driven,” said Fam during the board meeting. “I don’t know anything about it, that you’re telling me to go by what the salesperson says.”

The overall cost of the safety upgrade is estimated to be over $1.8 million. The strategy would equip every entrance at the designated high school and centers with metal detectors.

“We want children to think twice about that; it’s not show and tell,” said Licata. “Some kids bring them on just to show off. No, this is not the time or place.”

Licata and staff will be back in front of the board for a workshop at the end of April to discuss and select the other right schools where the metal detectors will be installed.

Public schools in Miami Dade County use a mobile detection unit that searches for metal objects and weapons in schools. All schools in the county are subjected to random inspections.

In a statement, a spokesperson with Miami-Dade County Public Schools wrote:

“While there are no permanent metal detectors, MDCPS has a random metal detection program that is conducted by a Metal Detection Team. All Miami-Dade public schools are subject to a visit by a Metal Detection Team for a random inspection.”


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