Stoneman Douglas to start school year with metal detectors, but not clear backpacks

 Scott Travis
Monday, July 23rd, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Clear backpacks are out and metal detectors are in this fall at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

The Broward County School District has put the Parkland school, which was the site of the Feb. 14 massacre, at the forefront for new security initiatives, including what turned out to be a widely panned requirement that students use only clear backpacks.

The district is ending that requirement, so students are free to bring whichever backpack they want to school.

But another dramatic change is coming.

Starting this fall, Stoneman Douglas will become the first school in Broward — and possibly in South Florida — to require students to go through metal detectors.

The district hasn’t spent any money on these. Since the tragedy, it has received a number of offers to donate metal detectors. The district is reviewing these offers “to determine if they will meet the district’s needs and requirements prior to purchasing any devices,” district spokeswoman Nadine Drew said.

District officials haven’t provided specifics on how these metal detectors would work, including whether students will walk through them or be scanned with portable wands.

It’s also unclear if and when they would be coming to other schools.

“The district will pilot use of the metal detectors to better understand benefits and limitations when implemented,” Drew said.

One concern has been how to get 3,200 students through the metal detectors in the morning without having long lines snake out the door.

“The district will work to establish an appropriate number of entrance points and a protocol for screening that serves to minimize significant lines, while maintaining effective use of metal detectors,” Drew said.

She said the district is still working on those plans.

Other security upgrades also are underway at the school:

• A buzzer system was installed in the front entrance to restrict access by visitors, Principal Ty Thompson said on Twitter.

• Four additional security personnel, as well as additional school resource officers, were hired.

• The school has a new intercom system and new locking hardware on classroom doors.

Also, the school will have more classroom space this fall.

New portables are being installed this summer to temporarily replace the rooms in the 1200 building, which has been closed since the shooting and eventually will be demolished.

The district has received state funds to construct a new building but those plans are still in the early stages.

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