Metal detectors, bag checks and school kids

This Associated Press photo, from 1998, shows a weapons check at a public elementary school in Indianapolis.

When Cole Middle School students return Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, they’ll no longer be able to breeze through the front door. The West Oakland school has decided to adopt baggage inspections and metal detection “wanding” on a trial basis in response to an incident last week in which a gun fired in a classroom, hitting a radiator.

Here is a letter that went out to Cole families about the new safety precautions.

Such security measures are rare in Oakland, with the exception of some of the district’s alternative schools — and, more recently, sporting events. But OUSD might eventually adopt those precautions at other schools as well, said district spokesman Troy Flint.

“That’s definitely something we’re considering,” Flint told me today. “The success or failure of this initiative will probably have an impact on whether we expand this program.”

Should OUSD take these measures, or could they backfire? Should it be determined on a school-by-school basis, or by the central administration — or both? There must be a reason that most OUSD schools have remained metal detector-free thus far. Is it time to reconsider?

Katy Murphy

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

  • John

    District Spokesman Troy Flint: “The success or failure of this initiative will probably have an impact on whether we expand this program.”

    What the hell does that mean!?

  • Nextset

    What a joke. This is a classic example of why decent people don’t send children to such schools.

    The refusal of the urban schools to segregate distrubed, dangerous and undesirable students into their own schools leads to use of ghetto protocols for all students enrolled in the school – thus a white, asian and middle-class flight. Think of it this way. Have you ever been into a ghetto branch of Wells Fargo Bank? Now can you imagine actually banking there? No – you go to a bank that is not loaded up with crack head patrons and maybe gang-girl tellers. A “nice” bank in a “nice” neighborhood.

    You vote with your feet for how you want to live and how you want to be treated. This produces neighborhoods that look like Piedmont and neighborhoods that look like – ghetto Oakland.

    I would prefer that instead of Bagdad-style security, the schools looked at the enrollment and started removing the unstable, disturbed and criminally oriented students to alternative schools and did their strip-searching or whatever there. It’s just more efficient and that way you might actually retain students worth having in your school district.

    These photos will make excellent recruiting posters – for the Charters and Private Schools.

  • Nextset

    What really angers me about the photo above is that this little black girl is going to a “school” where she is treated like she is visiting a jail or prison – because her school district cannot differentiate between normal kids and gang members and psychopaths.

    And her “parents” cannot manage their lives so that this little girl can attend a real school and not a ghetto jungle school…

    And because she is born the way she is she just has to live like this – regardless of her own behavior, morals, ability, grades, test scores or anything else. This photo is why I call for the segregation of students who can perform from those who don’t perform.

    Normal kids who perform academically belong in a real schools like those in Piedmont USD, not the maximum security District-wide ghetto failure factories popular in Urban School Districts. And even the little black girls should have a fair shot in landing in a real school despite her home address.

  • LaRavian

    No. No. No… Are we profiling entire schools now! How absurd! What messages are we sending to all our beautiful children if we have to frisk them before they can enter school. How many different ways can we allow “the system” to continue to tell them that they are criminals and not trustworthy. I would never want my nephew, who attends Bredhart, by the way, to attend a school that “needs” a metal detector. I would move him to a school district where he would be presumed innocent and not “a criminal act just waiting to happen”.

  • Nextset

    LaRavian: The problem with your post is that when a school allows gang members and violent disfunctional children into a campus they had darned well better weapon search the kids. You can’t have it both ways.

    This goes back to my earlier exchange with Sue who I believe is clueless about basic security – about the importance excluding any child with gang tattoos. You either have a campus of normal functional children who can be treated like – dare I say it – Piedmont kids.. Or you have an open Urban Campus where psychopathic and gang kids may abound. If you have the latter you are going to have to take the security measures of any other prison.. Armed police officers, drug dogs, weapons screening and secure perimeters (locked and alarmed emergency exits).

    Because if you don’t undertake these expensive and intrusive security measures you will have uncontrollable gang violence, drug dealing and intimidation of students, teachers and staff. Just like a prison. Any decent students and staff will quit because decent people do not stay in such an environment period.

    My beef with this photo is that the government in it’s indifference to maintaining basic law and order in minority communities has decided to not provide clean, safe and decent schools to black children – or for that matter all children – in Urban Areas (read that black areas) – because the Government will not maintain any kind of standards of behavior and performance in government schools to the point that the schools even look like jails. The photo above really says it all.

  • John

    Nextset! The problem I have with you is that I find it nearly impossible to disagree with you on anything! Your last point (above), regarding some urban schools “looking like jails” reminded me of a time when I took international student groups on Alcatraz Prison tours. I associated the interior of the deteriorating Alcatraz facility with a school I worked at for thirteen years in north Oakland. Sometimes I (seriously) imagined bumping into the ghost of Al Capone or Machine Gun Kelly on my way to a dank corner of this early 20th century school facility to use the faculty bathroom.

  • Nextset

    Where is Sue??

    Will somebody give us a counterpoint to the above posts?? What’s the party opposite’s take on all this?

  • John

    I forgot to mention Carl Janaway, a hospital cell mate of Machine Gun Kelly. Although it’s not a counterpoint, it is certainly an omisiom!

    Counter point: The observation that you can’t allow gang members and violent disfunctional children on campus without weapon searching the kids because you “can’t have it both ways” is grossly inaccurate, as long demonstrated by the Oakland Unified School District.