USD 259 parents wish there were more options ahead of metal detector proposal

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Director of Safety Services for USD 259 will propose automated screening devices to replace metal detectors at all city high schools on Monday, Sept. 12. This comes after five handguns were found in the first four weeks of this school year. 

“It’s just amazing that it’s happening at multiple schools. It’s not an isolated event,” Wichita East High parent Katie White said.

The purchase of 45 to 50 metal detectors will cost an estimated $1.5 million. 

“I think you still have that unsettling from covid with people getting used to getting together,” Terri Moses, Wichita Public Schools Safety & Environmental Services Director, said. “We still have mental health issues out there. You look at the Uvalde report. Clearly, that was a mental health issue. We have decision-making issues, and that’s one of the reasons that we continue to work on our mental health initiative.” 

Moses explained the new screeners are designed to detect anything from sub-compact firearms to full-sized rifles, knives and explosive devices. The district said this proposal has been in the works for a while, but some parents wish there were more solutions. 

Some Wichita Public Schools parents agree the safety of students is most important. Some even support the district bringing metal detectors into high schools across the district, especially with recent increased violence. 

“We have to do something to make sure that they stay safe because this is getting out of control–big time,” White said. “Yeah, it’s scary.” 

Parents across USD 259 just want students to be safe at school.  

“If that’s a way for them to stay safe and to feel safe in their learning environment and to not be distracted by being scared,” White said, “they’ll learn better if they’re not as scared.” 

“I want school to be a place where they’re safe,” Mac Mckenzie, a Wichita East High parent, said. “I want the police there to serve and protect the children and not be there to build cases against them.” 

Mac Mckenzie’s son is a freshman at East High. He wishes there was another solution instead of just jumping to metal detectors. 

“Whatever we need to do to sort of keep the weapons out of the school,” Mckenzie said, “I think that’s probably what we need to do.” 

White’s son is a sophomore at East. She has suggestions of her own to tackle the issue.  

“Support groups for the students or like beef up on their counseling,” White said. “I guess if they’re having trouble at home or socially like getting picked on or bullied or things like that.” 

Both of these concerned parents agree it’s time to do something before things get more out of hand. 

“How many guns does it take to do a school shooting?” Mckenzie questioned. “It only takes one.” 

If the proposal passes, metal detectors won’t make their way into Wichita high schools for another 10 to 12 weeks. 

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