It has just come to my attention that at least two high schools in Oakland scan students — and, presumably, visitors — for weapons. This isn’t news, I admit, just news to me. I visited most of the high school campuses during the last year, and saw little more than security cameras. In fact, kids at the now-defunct East Oakland Community High School complained about those.
I mistakenly assumed Oakland Unified was metal detector-free.
But Dewey Academy, a continuation school near the OUSD central office, does indeed have a checkpoint. The school decided to adopt metal detector wands to make sure no one — including non-students — brought weapons to campus, said Hattie Tate, the principal.
“It just became necessary with all our students coming from all different parts of the city, from different turfs, different neighborhoods,” Tate said.
Tate said the school’s suspension and expulsion rates have since dropped, and that the campus has experienced less violence. At the same time, the school has adopted extensive conflict resolution measures, which she believes to be successful.
Community Day Middle and High School also uses a metal detector. But someone there told me that it picks up innocuous traces of metal and sometimes misses well-concealed contraband. “It’s not very useful,” she said.
What do you think about metal detectors in the schools? Do you know of other Oakland schools that scan for metal, or if any have considered doing so? I’d like to know if students feel safer — or just perpetually under suspicion — as a result.