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No metal detectors at HISD schools

For now, at least.

Houston ISD trustees shelved a request from administrators Thursday to authorize up to $3 million for metal detectors, arguing district officials need to provide more concrete recommendations and plans for school security before the board votes to allocate money for the machines.

The board’s decision comes as Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan’s administration continues to solicit feedback and analyze security protocols following last month’s on-campus fatal shooting of Bellaire High School student Cesar Cortes, 19. Lathan said she has not yet decided whether to install metal detectors in some middle and high schools, but her administration wanted quick access to funds for the machines if district leaders decide to buy them.

Some trustees suggested they remain open to possibly deploying metal detectors at access points in schools, though they said administrators and the board first need to conduct more detailed conversations about districtwide security plans. Several trustees questioned why Lathan asked for authority to spend on metal detectors now, rather than waiting until she decided to purchase the machines.

“It’s so easy to try to put a metal detector out there as a quick fix,” Trustee Anne Sung said. “I just want to make sure we’re being thoughtful and utilizing a strategy.”

[…]

Lathan said the prospect of installing metal detectors has received some public support, but three other security measures top her list of potential recommendations as of now: increasing the number of police officers on campuses; bumping up police officer pay to reduce vacancies and turnover; and adding social workers to address students’ social and emotional needs.

Students attending the district’s high schools have been particularly supportive of placing more police officers on campuses, Lathan said. Her comments came after closed-door meetings with about 25 Bellaire students last month and 35 high school students from across the district earlier this week.

“I thought that was powerful,” Lathan said. “Especially in this day and time, when there’s still animosity in some communities when it comes to police officers, what I heard is, we want more police officers.”

HISD trustees have not yet held extensive discussions about specific security recommendations, many of which would require the board to authorize additional funding. Some board members have asked Lathan to present data on the efficiency of metal detectors in schools, though relatively little national research exists.

“I think we need to have a conversation on what our philosophy and approach is as a district, rooted in conversation with community members and students — which I know we’ve begun to do — but also research and policies,” Trustee Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca said Thursday.

See here for the background. I’m glad we are not charging ahead with this, and I agree with Trustees Sung and Vilaseca that we need to put a lot of thought into this and do some research. And put me down in opposition to increasing police presence at schools, because the research we have on that shows that more police at schools is a key component of the school-to-prison pipeline. Too many kids win up getting citations for low-level, non-violent behavior that historically has been handled at the school level – that’s what police officers do, after all – and that has significant and long-lasting effect on the kids. Let’s take a long, serious look at other options before we go down this path, because the potential for unintended consequences is great.

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6 Comments

  1. Manny says:

    No truer words have been written;

    Too many kids win up getting citations for low-level, non-violent behavior that historically has been handled at the school level – that’s what police officers do, after all – and that has significant and long-lasting effect on the kids. Let’s take a long, serious look at other options before we go down this path, because the potential for unintended consequences is great.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    If you won’t allow school staff to discipline kids and maintain order, then you really have no choice but to involve the police. If you guys want to try and move us back to a time where we allowed schools and school administrators to maintain order and mete out discipline in house, I’m absolutely for that. As you’ll recall, though, it was liberals that got corporal punishment stopped, and basically got any kind of discipline stopped.

    Can’t put a hand on a kid no matter how out of control or violent the kid may be. Unless you reverse policy, you need cops to handle that.

    And when you remove the ability of school staff and administrators to maintain order without calling a cop, what message does that send to the children? The kids learn that THEY are the ones in charge. THEY control and run things, and it’s Lord of the Flies time. When they become adults, and find out that actions have consequences, it’s too late….they’ve got police records, or they’ve been victims of violence.

  3. Ross says:

    @Bill, do you actually have a kid in school, or are you talking out of your ass again? HISD teachers are not allowed to use corporal punishment, but can send kids out of the classroom and refuse to allow them back in. Corporal punishment is generally a bad idea, since one teacher may beat the crap out of a student, while another does nothing. I went to school when corporal punishment was allowed, and it was somewhat effective with the “good” kids, while the “bad” kids saw it as a way to show their disdain for authority, thus making it utterly ineffective. There were kids who were paddled almost daily, and they just didn’t care.

    Besides, what does corporal punishment have to do with using metal detectors? From all accounts, the Bellaire student who shot the other student wasn’t a discipline problem. He probably thought it was cool to bring a real firearm to school to show the ROTC kids, but had no concept of gun safety. Corporal punishment wouldn’t have stopped that. What would have stopped it was students being willing to tell a teacher or other authority figure that the kid had a firearm.

  4. Adoile Turner III says:

    @Bill you are absolutely correct, and the liberals are the ones claiming to want to end the school to prison pipeline but removing corporal punishment has led to children knowing they’re untouchable and that school staff has no real power to discipline them effectively. All they can do is remove them from the school which is even more disastrous for the student. Their backwards policy making always exacerbates what they seek to resolve. Not saying beat on kids but if a parent feels spanking works for their child each school should be designated a person to discipline those children under strict supervision of course. CP ended in the 90s when i was in elementary lol, but even in high school going to a black high school our black coaches and teachers that knew us well enough knew how to discipline the ones that needed it. i’ve seen many football players get chastised by coaches for acting out in class and those same players are all in college if not graduated already. So in my opinion it def needs to come back. kids wouldn’t shoot up schools if teachers had power to whoop that a**!!! notice when it stopped the other started.

  5. C.L. says:

    This is why HISD is such a clusterf**k. Even a short term proposed solution to a problem can’t garner a consensus.

    Let’s see… $10K for a metal detector now or $30K/yr…forever… to have an Officer at the front door….

  6. Manny says:

    Adoile Turner III, you are out on left field, let me suggest you go ply your bs at Big Jolly, they believe the same bull you do.

    Besides it seems it the schools with mostly white kids were you find the mass shooters, wonder why. Minorities are not shooting up their schools.

    The really bad kids don’t want to be in school, the judges force them to go, if the kids are on probation.