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Metal detectors to be tested at some Palm Beach County high schools

'I believe in anything that we can do for the safety and security for our students,' Palm Beach County School Board member Erica Whitfield says
Posted at 7:37 PM, Feb 13, 2023

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — There's never been more change in security at public schools in Florida than in the last five years.

The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School moved security to the top of the list for school districts, and it's still the No. 1 priority.

Some Palm Beach County high schools will be selected to test out metal detectors in the next couple of months while more school districts are considering them as well.

The sight of metal detectors or metal detector wands at the entrances of schools can seem overwhelming. But there's no education without safety and security, and school districts are trying to balance it all.

However, these security measures might be what they need for peace of mind.

Yvette Paul, a parent of a student at Forest Hill Community High School, shares her thoughts on safety at schools in Palm Beach County.
Yvette Paul, a parent of a student at Forest Hill Community High School, shares her thoughts on safety at schools in Palm Beach County.

"If the school has it, the parents don't have to worry about it," parent Yvette Paul said.

In a few months, Paul's son graduates from Forest Hill Community High School.

"He said he wants to go to college," Paul said. "I hope so."

She thinks often about the parents of the Parkland school shooting student victims. It's on the mind of school board members too.

"That really impacted me a lot," Palm Beach County School Board member Erica Whitfield said. "I have watched the school system grow and change over these past five years."

Whitfield said the pilot program for metal detectors will start at four high schools in the next 60 days or so.

"We've had students bring Tasers onto campus just for safety, and then they end up being expelled," Whitfield said. "We expelled a few kids last week that brought those kinds of weapons onto campus."

Schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties currently have random metal detection systems.

Martin County schools do not use metal detectors or wands.

Palm Beach County School Board member Erica Whitfield discusses safety in schools and the implementation of metal detectors.
Palm Beach County School Board member Erica Whitfield discusses safety in schools and the implementation of metal detectors.

St. Lucie County schools have metal detectors at discipline-based alternative schools, but there are no plans for district-wide use.

Schools in Indian River and Okeechobee County do not use metal detectors or wands.

Greg Yezak's son is also set to graduate in Palm Beach County this year, and he's all in favor of metal detectors at schools.

"They have security at the school always anyway so this is just another tier," Yezak said. "It's added safety for everyone in my opinion."

Whitfield said the district will see how the pilot program goes before more discussions take place about implementing them at all high schools.

"For me at least, the jury is still out," Whitfield said. "I believe in anything that we can do for the safety and security for our students."

Below are the full statements from the St. Lucie and Martin County school districts regarding metal detectors:

MARTIN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

"We continue to monitor and consider all recommendations made by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission and our law enforcement partners to determine how they might enhance comprehensive safety plan."

ST. LUCIE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

"St. Lucie Public Schools utilizes metal detectors at our discipline based alternative school and at certain large scale public events. There are no plans for district-wide implementation of metal detectors at this time. The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority and we continue to implement proven security measures and best practices for the safety of everyone."