JCPS parents weigh in on weapon detectors inside schools

JCPS parents weigh in on weapon detectors inside schools
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 6:14 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio is joining the school board to view a proposal to install weapon detectors in schools at the district’s board meeting.

A motion was made in February to put metal detectors in JCPS schools.

Since then, JCPS visited districts around the nation that have already have detectors installed to put together a plan for their middle and high schools.

“What we will be providing is a plan, information to our board, here’s what it would cost, here’s how we would implement it, here are the challenges to this,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Polio said.

The proposal would cost an estimated $17 million.

AI weapon detection devices look for concealed threats like firearms and explosive devices instead of just metal objects, and you can walk through without removing what’s in your pockets, such as a cell phone.

The superintendent and parents has expressed concerns about staffing them. The JCPS board voted not to have police officers in school buildings back in 2019.

”I don’t know that just having a teacher stand there and check anything that comes through,” grandparent Marquita Ector said. “I think you need to have someone qualified, someone who is trained. It just makes you want to cry for these kids, it’s terrible.”

Some parents showed concern about employing traditional metal detectors inside the schools, a problem that may be alleviated if JCPS uses the AI detection system.

”My son goes to school every morning with a JCPS supplied Chromebook,” parent Jennifer Barbour said. “He has to carry a notebook with him to class. He is not allowed to take a backpack. The notebook has metal clips in it. So these are the things that I know he goes to school with every morning and I am thinking about 800 to 900 students trying to enter Meyzeek Middle School, during a half an hour window carrying things that we know are going to set off the metal detectors.”

Pollio’s presentation will include how many employees would be needed to operate the technology, along with a timeline of how it could be implemented.

The presentation proposal said half of JCPS high schools would get them installed in Fall 2023, with the other half during Spring 2024. Once the high schools have been installed, middle schools would be next.

Alternative screening options for students with medical devices or disabilities will also be discussed during the board meeting.