Charter groups bridle at LAUSD's order to 'wand' students to detect weapons
In this 2001 file photo, a female security officer uses a metal detector "wand" to check for contraband during an impromptu check at Monroe High School in North Hills. (Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)
e box of hand-held metal detectors arrived out of the blue and without an explanation in December. Principal Kristin Botello shoved them in a closet and carried on with her work at her South Los Angeles charter school.
Botello later learned the box came with a mandate that requires Animo Jackie Robinson High School to conduct random daily searches of its students with the wands. Los Angeles Unified School District officials say the policy protects students from classmates who might be carrying weapons.
The charter school and its parent organization, Green Dot Public Schools, have refused to comply with the requirement, arguing that random searches will undermine the safety that comes from strong pupil-educator relationships.
The charter’s standoff with district administrators has drawn an unlikely ally in United Teachers Los Angeles as both groups joined civil rights organizations to craft a letter that was sent to the district May 25 calling on the district to revise or rescind the policy.
“We live and work in a community where kids are profiled every day by different forms of authority, whether it’s police on the street or by shop owners,” Botello said.
School administrators support safety, she said, but question whether randomly waving a wand over students will achieve that objective.
Gun violence at schools – from the 2012 slaying of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut to Wednesday’s fatal shooting of a UCLA professor by a former student who then committed suicide – has amplified the debate about campus safety measures.
Supporters of such searches say they could help prevent school shootings, but critics argue that innocent children begin to resent the constant threat of electronic frisking by authorities whom they must trust if they’re going to learn from them. They also point to what they characterize as an overreaction to violence that ushered in zero-tolerance policies that led, for example, to the suspension of a 7-year-old Tarzana Elementary School student who was caught with an inch-long toy gun on a keychain.
“It’s a delicate balance for school administrators and school police leaders,” said Kenneth Charter groups bridle at LAUSD's order to 'wand' students to detect weapons - LA Times: