City schools to beef up security

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 26, 2007

FRANKLIN—Metal detectors and other increased security measures may be put in place in the city’s three public schools next year.

The Franklin City School Board has approved a policy regarding such measures, including how to conduct pat-downs and other personal searches.

The school system recently received a grant through the city’s police department that will allow the school system to beef up security at the three schools. Part of the grant will fund hand-held and free-standing metal detectors. The devices will be also be used during special school-related events such as football games and dances.

The policy covers procedures, incidents regarding refusal to cooperate and confiscation of contraband.

At-large school board member Richard Thomas said he was not comfortable with the procedures for pat-downs, which read, &uot;Should the metal detector be reactivated on this second screening, then the student may be subjected to a ‘pat-down’ search by the school administrator or his or her designee.&uot;

Thomas said he believes a second school official should be present during such a search.

It was pointed out that pat-downs will only occur if contraband is discovered on a person by way of the metal detector, and no pat-down procedure will be conducted &uot;inside the clothing.&uot;

If a person refuses a pat-down, the police will be contacted. If it is a student, they will face disciplinary action by the school board. Any other person will be required to leave the school property.

Chairman Bill Scarboro was concerned about having a situation where a student has been identified as carrying contraband, refuses the pat-down, and then takes off down the hall where the other students are.

He said, &uot;I’m concerned about the safety of these students. As a school board member, I don’t have the right to take that weapon away from the student?&uot;

Superintendent Bill Pruett said, &uot;You can’t physically detain (a person),&uot; and added that type of thing is not something a school board can legislate.

&uot;I understand what you are saying,&uot; said Assistant Superintendent Rick Clemons to Scarboro, &uot;but I’m not sure if we can write that out in the policy.&uot;

Johnetta Nichols of Ward 3 reminded the board that in a situation such as that, the school would normally go on a lock down, a plan that &uot;keeps the kids safe.&uot;

Scarboro said, &uot;That’s a good point.&uot;

It was also decided to add in the policy that either a request would be put in to the police department to provide an officer, or the schools would hire a security officer during extra-curricular activities where the public would need to be screened. Staff members will not man the detectors in these situations.

Most of the equipment should be in place by the first of the calendar year.