APS: Metal detectors in schools tested once per year

APS: Metal detectors in schools tested once per year

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ATLANTA -

The Atlanta Public Schools security chief says it's up to a principal or an onsite police officer to report a non-working metal detector in a school.  Authorities say last week when a Price Middle School student fired a gun on campus wounding a classmate, the school's metal detector wasn't working.  

Since then, Price Middle School has been trying to get back to normal.  They now have enhanced security, and metal detectors are again working. On Monday night, the school hosted a basketball game, which is open to the entire community.  But nerves are understandably still a bit raw following last week's breach on campus, and many parents expressed their concerns. 

School officials said there were five security officers on hand for Monday night's game.  Dozens of people attending the game walked through a working metal detector before heading into the school's gym.

Parents may find some of the details of the investigation into the incident a bit unsettling.  For instance, metal detectors at all Atlanta Public Schools are checked just once a year.  If a device fails in anyway, principals or any onsite law enforcement are required to report it.  Superintendent Erroll Davis has said that the system needs a security overhaul.  

At a meeting on Monday afternoon, school board members had questions about security in Atlanta's schools.  APS security director Marquenta Sands fielded those questions, as did Davis.  They told the board security for all schools is not what they want it to be.  

Sands said there are also staffing challenges in some places when it comes to getting students through a metal detector and to class on time.

It's not just staffing or equipment.  What school officials describe would call for a complete overhaul of the attitudes about what makes a school a safe place.   Davis says that everyone—including parents and all school principals—have to buy into a uniform standard of security.  

When asked if anyone had been disciplined up to now in connection to the breach at Price Middle School, Sands said she could not talk about it because the investigation is ongoing.  If she determines that there were infractions and somebody should have pointed it out, she says there will be discipline.

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