A discussion regarding the use of metal detecting rods has begun in the Lakeland Joint School District.
The Lakeland School Board brought up the subject during its regular meeting on Wednesday evening.
“We have received a request from Timberlake and Lakeland High Schools to put a policy in place and allow them to use a metal detecting rod, which I do not support,” Superintendent Lisa Arnold said at the meeting. .
In a Thursday chat with The Press, Arnold said what sparked the matter were two students at those schools who, over the past school year, had exhibited such high levels of concern for the safety that the school leaders responsible for ensuring that these students were safe. the school was not comfortable doing it.
“Really until this year it hasn’t even been a topic because we haven’t needed it,” Arnold told The Press.
During the meeting, the board updated the district’s student discipline policy to require students with behavior plans to report to the board before returning to school. Behavior plans are conducted by administrators, counselors, behavioral specialists, and sometimes teachers and superintendents when students exhibit behaviors deemed to be of serious concern. Arnold said parents and students are involved at every stage of these plans and must sign them off before they are implemented.
Metal detecting rods could be part of these plans, if some students are at risk of harming themselves or others.
“The plan is really to put supports in place to help kids through the tough times they’re going through,” Arnold said. “My biggest concern is that we’re putting a lot of pressure on the administrators to make this decision, and they’re worried about making the wrong decision.”
Arnold and council trustees shared their reluctance to even discuss the issue of metal detecting rods in schools.
“I don’t like the idea of us being here,” board chair Michelle Thompson said. “It’s truly sad.”
Arnold said it was a difficult subject for her because when she was headmistress she always tried to be very aware of students’ rights.
“They have Fourth Amendment constitutional search and seizure rights,” she said. “I think it’s really important that whatever we do, we’re very conscious of it.”
Thompson said she wasn’t a big fan of using wands because she didn’t want to see these students being targeted.
“I don’t want some kids to be known as ‘kids with a wand,'” she said. “I just think it creates such a negative.”
That being said, she said she respects the fact that Lakeland Armed District Security Specialists (formerly known as Armed Guards) are able to make judgmental decisions that could potentially affect the entire student population. .
“I’m on the fence on this one,” Thompson said. “I’m not for it. I don’t like it, but I respect the position they’re in.”
Lakeland has three armed District Security Specialists serving Athol Elementary, Lakeland High and Lakeland Middle schools. The district is working on hiring a fourth.
In the Coeur d’Alene school district, all middle and high schools have hand-held metal detecting rods that are selectively used in certain situations.
“For example, if a building administrator has reasonable grounds to suspect that a student may be hiding contraband on their person or in their backpack, the wand can be used as a non-invasive tool to identify the location of an item, such as a vaping device,” said Scott Maben, director of communications for the Coeur d’Alene School District. “We can also use wands to check people or bags for special events, like a school dance; or for students going through a threat assessment plan.”
He said Coeur d’Alene annually reviews emerging technologies in school safety.
“There is now a lot of focus on passive, non-intrusive weapon detection systems,” Maben said. “These are designed to prevent weapons from crossing the threshold of a building. If our school safety and maintenance tax passes next month, this is an option we could explore for our district. “
Post Falls School District Superintendent Dena Naccarato said her district has not had a formal discussion regarding metal detectors or wands.
“Our security protocols are reviewed annually,” she said. “We will always strive to do better. We are reviewing them with the police and the Kootenai County Fire and Rescue Department to do our best. Student safety is always top of mind.”
Post Falls is hosting a school safety forum at 6 p.m. Monday at Post Falls High School, 2832 E. Poleline Ave.
Naccarato said a handful of parents recently contacted the district to understand its safety procedures. She said Kootenai County Fire and Rescue, Post Falls Police, a school resource officer and the SWAT captain will be at the forum to engage with the community and answer questions.
“We hope some parents are interested in learning more about our safety protocols and all that we are doing to keep our students safe,” she said. “I think it will be great for parents to hear how the school district is working with the agencies.”
No action has been taken regarding metal detection rods in the Lakeland School District. Arnold and his team will conduct research to present to the board at a later date.