Checkpoints at Oakland schools

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.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • neighbor

    I would certainly support metal detectors at this point: some students do carry guns, some students do shoot at other students and teachers, and the safety of all–students, teachers and residents who live on the same street as the school– is at stake. Yesterday, about 4-8 Oakland High School students were involved in a shooting that took place on my street, directly outside my window. A stray bullet entered the window of my neighbor’s house. This kind of dangerous behavior needs to be stopped; if metal detectors can provide some modicum of safety, then perhaps they–or some other screening tool–should become mandatory.