Majority backs continued weapons screening in Alexandria public colleges


Most individuals who answered an Alexandria City Public Schools survey assist making the continued Weapons Abatement Pilot Program right into a everlasting fixture at metropolis excessive colleges and center colleges, and the college system agrees.

Most individuals who answered an Alexandria City Public Schools survey assist making the continued Weapons Abatement Pilot Program right into a everlasting fixture at metropolis excessive colleges and center colleges, and the Virginia college system agrees.

However, regardless of a proportionately excessive variety of dad and mom and relations saying this system needs to be carried out in elementary and Okay-8 college places, the college system mentioned there’s not sufficient present information to assist including weapons scanners at these colleges.

During a May 23 college board assembly, Chief of Operations Alicia Hart offered an replace on this system, which launched in May 2023.

“We have seen a 71% discount in weapons-related incidents at secondary colleges for the reason that implementation,” Hart instructed the board members, throughout a presentation. “Using the weapons abatement course of removes ranges of subjectivity because it pertains to scholar searches, because the system’s alert is what prompts a secondary search inside the course of.”

Alexandria is among the many D.C.-area college techniques utilizing weapons detectors, a few of which use synthetic intelligence, to stop weapons from getting into colleges. Prince William County colleges in Virginia additionally launched an identical program final yr.

In Alexandria, the gadgets are positioned at ACHS King Street, ACHS Minnie Howard, ACHS CFC, George Washington Middle School and Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

Hart mentioned there are periodic bottlenecks in screening college students — she inspired reminding college students of the BLUE acronym — “BLUE, that means binders, laptops, umbrellas, and eyeglass circumstances, that are objects that needs to be eliminated previous to screening, which helps keep away from false alerts.”

A chart exhibiting the extent of assist for this assertion: “I imagine the weapons abatement pilot program ought to proceed at ACPS secondary places.” (Courtesy Alexandria County Public Schools)

As for the way forward for this system, Hart mentioned the employees believes it ought to proceed in center and excessive colleges: “Our workforce strongly recommends making the weapons abatement course of a everlasting and formal a part of the safety posture on the secondary places.”

However, “Our workforce doesn’t presently suggest implementing weapons abatement on the elementary or Okay-8 colleges on the time.”

In the survey of whether or not the weapons abatement program ought to embrace colleges with youthful college students, the best choice for fogeys and relations was “strongly agree,” with the second-highest selection being “strongly disagree.”

Hart mentioned the selection to introduce this system at secondary colleges was data-driven.

“The information doesn’t mirror the identical frequency of incidents, requires service, or arrests or referrals at elementary or Okay-8 colleges, as for secondary colleges,” she mentioned.

chart
A chart exhibiting the extent of assist for this assertion: ” imagine the weapons abatement program needs to be carried out at elementary and Okay-8 places from this presentation, to be displayed close to the next graphs about the way forward for this system.” (Courtesy Alexandria County Public Schools)

However, Hart mentioned the college system will proceed to review whether or not the weapons techniques in all colleges can be inexpensive.

“In phrases of the elementary colleges, we might be capable to come again to the board with the complete value of implementation, not only for the gear, but in addition the safety officer prices, and every other information that we felt can be pertinent for dialogue at the moment,” Hart mentioned.

The college board is predicted to vote on the suggestions at its June 6 assembly.

WTOP’s Scott Gelman contributed to this report.

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