Richland School District Two moving closer to using metal detectors year round

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Published: May. 3, 2023 at 1:05 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland School District Two could be a step closer to having permanent metal detectors at their five high schools when students return from summer break.

A special Safety and Security Subcommittee meeting shed light on those possible plans.

Metal detectors alerted police about a student having a loaded 9-millimeter gun in a backpack at Richlands Northeast High School last month. And a stabbing in a hallway at Ridgeview High School last week pushed the decision ahead.

The idea of having metal detectors at Richland School District Two High Schools seems to be a certainty.

It’s a Safety and Security Subcommittee meeting that may define Richland School District Two for years to come.

Angela Nash, Chair of Safety and Security Subcommittee says “We’ve been talking about safety for a while. It’s been a conversation not just here in Richland Two, but all over the nation. It is time for action. We have a really robust plan and I’m excited to bring it to the board and I know they are also looking for a robust strategic plan.”

The school district already has a few metal detectors that move around to different high schools three times a week. The plan includes buying 23 metal detectors, and paying for 160 people to staff them.

The cost about is 2.6 million dollars.

Interim Superintendent for Richland School District Two Nancy Gregory says “I think we are all on the same page, safety and security are a priority and we want to do everything we can. It’s a multi-layer approach and metal detectors are a deterrent. That’s what Sheriff Leon Lott keeps reminding us of.”

McGee Moody is on the Safety and Security Committee and one of his daughters attends Blythewood High School.

McGee Moody says, “As a parent, my child, her safety is my ultimate concern with the uptick in incidents. It’s not just Columbia, South Carolina. It’s across the country. We have to take every possible avenue. Research every possible avenue to keep our students safe. I think I hope the board backs this recommendation from the committee.”

Marq Claxton is the Director of Safety and Security for Richland School District Two, It’s his job to keep more than 27 thousand students, teachers, and staff safe with cameras and other technology.

Marq Claxton says, “We are also relying on conduct and behavior for our students and our staff and students in general. Everybody has to be on board with providing a safe and secure environment and also be on board with promoting ideas of safety incivility.”

He took time to show WIS the district’s new Crisis Alert System for teachers and staff.

Claxton adds “Plain and simply what we are providing with the Crisis Alert System is immediate help with a few button pushes. It is a rapid response so we can provide support to individuals who are requesting or requiring assistance.”

On May 9 the subcommittee will make its recommendation to the school board.

Some details have to be worked out, but it appears there are enough board members in favor of having metal detectors.

Staffing could be a major stumbling block.

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