“East Ramapo officials are adding metal detectors at schools throughout the district, a move they said was precautionary and did not come in response to an uptick in incidents.
On Tuesday, the school board unanimously approved the use of handheld devices at district-sponsored events, in school buildings and on school grounds to screen for guns, knives and other weapons.
Although other districts in Rockland have, at various points, discussed implementing similar policies, there are currently no other schools in the county authorizing use of the devices.
Nationally, only about 4 percent of public schools use random metal detector checks, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
According to the policy adopted by East Ramapo on Feb. 14, screenings will be at random, and anyone who refuses one may be denied entry. They may occur before entering a school building, board or getting off of a school bus or prior to entering a school event, such as a football game.
“It is really just a policy to give them a tool if they need it. It wasn’t provoked by any specific incident or anything,” said Chuck Szbulera, East Ramapo’s state-appointed monitor. But, at the same time, “it also kind of sends a message to kids that ‘Hey, if we need it, we’ve got it.’ ”
Oscar Cohen, education chair of the Spring Valley branch of the NAACP, said the group is not for or against the metal detector policy because they’re still seeking answers about it.
Cohen said he believes the larger safety issue is the lack of “no trespassing” signs at school buildings, despite the urging of local community groups and parents to post them. There have been reports over the years of strangers on property during recess who refuse to leave and cannot be removed by police unless signage is posted, Cohen said.”
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