School Security

PA High School Increases Policing of Students, Citing Greater Need in New, Larger Building

A new Pennsylvania high school will be running students through metal detectors. Thomas Jefferson High School, which opens in August, is replacing an older school down the block, where the use of a metal detector was piloted last year.

Each day, between 130 and 150 students were designated to walk through the metal detector and have bags checked prior to gaining to entry. The goal was to allow district administrators at West Jefferson Hills School District to collect data regarding security check timing and configuration of the settings on the metal detector. Then in August 2018, the board approved purchase of two additional metal detectors to test the capacity of the school to have every student walk through and have his or her bag checked without lengthy delays. That approval covered the purchase of two additional Garrett 6500i walk-through metal detectors from Markl Supply Company at a cooperative purchasing price of $7,548.

At the same time the board also approved a memorandum of understanding with the Jefferson Federation of Teachers to create four additional metal detector "monitor" positions, up from two. The six teachers are contracted to start their days 15 minutes early to search student bags for guns, knives, tobacco and certain medicines.

Local reporting stated that the district has also hired an additional school police officer, which will double the number at the high school. The school also has two security guards, up from one at the previous location.

When the new school opens, students arriving by bus will enter the building through a back entrance; all other people will come through the front. Three monitors will check bags at the front and three at the back.

The additional security measures were necessary, said school officials, because the new building is a third larger than the previous one, 300,000 square feet compared to 190,000 square feet.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.