Attorneys demand metal detectors at JCPS middle and high schools
Local attorney Scott Drabenstadt is one of the four attorneys who addressed the letter to JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A group of attorneys is demanding JCPS install metal detectors at middle and high schools.
Local attorney Scott Drabenstadt is one of the four attorneys who addressed the letter to JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens. He formerly represented the teen that shot another student at Fern Creek High School in 2014. Drabenstadt said that case is one of the reasons he is pushing for preventative measures.
"There are guns in our schools,” Drabenstadt said. “Because there are teenagers that carry guns, and there are teenagers in those schools, and we don't have any way of stopping it at the door right now.
"When you mix something as serious as a handgun in a school, you have to try to do what you can to prevent this. We really believe that this type of situation is something that can greatly reduce the possibility. It won't make it zero, but it'll get it close, if done right.”
In the letter, the attorneys say an ever-increasing and significant number of teenagers in Jefferson County possess loaded guns on a daily basis.
JCPS records show there were eight handgun incidents in schools five years ago. It went up to 13 for the last school year and there have been five so far this school year.
As WDRB previously reported, those incidents have occurred at schools including Western High School, Noe Middle School, Atherton High School and Iroquois High School.
The attorneys say schools deserve the same equipment as courthouses, airports and arenas.
"This technology is very familiar to us,” Drabenstadt said. “So is it really that traumatic for a teenager to have to put a backpack on an X-ray scanner? And to have to have to walk through a magnetometer? And maybe wait in line a little while?"
In the letter, the attorneys demand that JCPS introduce "stringent security measures at the front doors of our middle and high schools to prevent the introduction of guns into the schools."
"I don't doubt for one minute that JCPS wants to protect our kids,” said Drabenstadt. “And security and safety is paramount for them. It's how you go about it."
The attorneys say "the imminent danger to the children in our schools is preventable. Whatever the cost, real protection must be provided."
"The magnetometers that you walk through are $2,000 to $3,000 to purchase them. Certainly an entity like JCPS could get it a lot cheaper,” said Drabenstadt.
A JCPS board member and the president of the 15th District PTA, Linda Duncan, said it’s not that easy.
"If we only had everybody moving through one door, then it would be an easy screen,” Duncan said. “And it sounds like such a wonderful idea to do that if we had one door. But we don't."
Duncan said each middle and high school has multiple entrances, so coordinating metal detectors and staff to run the equipment at each entrance would be very complicated and expensive. But she wondered if a mobile metal detector would be a good option to screen kids and buses before school started.
"Whatever we can do to help reduce the odds of weapons being brought into the building, we need to be looking at,” said Duncan.
Many of the incidents of guns on school property were reported by students. Duncan said the district needs to keep improving its relationship with students to make sure they continue to feel comfortable to report any safety concerns.
"We rely on those reports,” said Duncan. “And yet I often worry about how many things are going unreported."
JCPS released this statement in response to the attorneys’ letter: “The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. We received the letter yesterday, and we are currently reviewing it.”
Duncan said she expects the school board to discuss the letter in the next board meeting. But there is no timeline, at this point, on when a decision could be made.
"I don't want to wait on these things,” said Duncan. “If we decide that's the route we want to go, then we need to move quickly."
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