JCPS to discuss adding new hand-held metal detectors at each sch - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS to discuss adding new hand-held metal detectors at each school

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A proposal to purchase new hand-held metal detectors at each JCPS will be up for discussion on Tuesday. A proposal to purchase new hand-held metal detectors at each JCPS will be up for discussion on Tuesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Officials with Jefferson County Public Schools are proposing that the district purchase and reissue hand-held metal detectors at each of its 155 schools.

The discussion will take place during a 5 p.m. work session on "ensuring safe schools," in which Chief Operations Officer Michael Raisor will talk about the district's different options as it relates to safe schools.

JCPS spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin told WDRB News on Monday that about 10 years ago, the district bought hand-held detectors for each school.

"Over time, some have broken, some schools have bought new ones," she said. "The discussion on Tuesday will be about the possibility of purchasing new hand-held metal detectors for each school."

Brislin said it is estimated that purchasing new the hand-held detectors would cost about $150 each for a total of about $23,000. However, the district is exploring other funding options. 

The move comes three months after a group of local attorneys sent a letter to Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens requesting metal detectors be put in all middle and high schools.

That request was for the district to put in the detectors at the "front doors of our middle and high schools to prevent the introduction of guns into our schools."

Scott Drabenstadt is one of the four attorneys who addressed the letter to Hargens in September. He formerly represented Andre Banks, the teenager who shot another student at Fern Creek High School in 2014.

In the letter, the attorneys say an ever-increasing and significant number of teenagers in Jefferson County possess loaded guns on a daily basis.

"It is not a matter of if, but of when, we will see the horror of children carried out of schools in body bags," the letter stated.

In October, Raisor and other administrators visited a Cincinnati high school that utilizes the detectors and there was a panel conversation held at the Chestnut Street YMCA.

Some JCPS principals tell WDRB News that they are supportive of having hand-held detectors available to use as a tool if needed.

"If you have a suspicion that someone could be hiding something and could be a danger, it would be a good tool to have," said Jim Jury, who was principal at Ballard High School for 12 years and has been principal at Louisville Male High School since 2015.

Jury said at one point, Ballard had two of the devices and "every once in awhile we would use them."

"They didn't come out very often," he said, adding that Male also has at least one hand-held detector but that he doesn't recall having to use it since his arrival.

Other principals tell WDRB that they have used the devices before a school-wide event like a dance or to search individual students.

JCPS schools have detailed safety plans and leaders go through safety training monitored by Homeland Security and the FBI.

Every day school is in session, gun and drug sniffing dogs search two schools randomly. And the alternative schools have metal detectors at their disposal. In an October 2016, interview with WDRB, Raisor said he believes their current safety measures are adequate, but they still want to take every available option to keeps students safe.

During the 2016-17 year, there were 11 incidents involved handguns. Of those incidents, one was an air-soft pistol and the other was a look-a-like, Brislin said. 

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Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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