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RACINE — Racine Unified School District officials are aiming to do at least one portable metal detector scan of students entering each of its high schools before the end of the school year.

The district has purchased eight portable detectors, along with some handheld scanners, since the end of last school year for a total cost of about $32,000. More than $23,000 of that came out of the $1.6 million Unified received through in school safety grants from the state.

The School Board approved a policy regarding the metal detectors and their use during a Feb. 4 meeting.

Unified plans to move the detectors from school to school, allowing staff to do scans on random days.

Unified is set to begin installing signs at every one of its high-school buildings this week, warning entrants that they could be subject to scanning. Then, district officials plan to communicate with students and their families about the use of metal detectors in the schools and the district’s policy before it begins using them.

“Our goal is to run a scan at all of our high schools prior to the end of the school year,” said Shannon Gordon, Unified’s chief operating officer.

Training and regulations

The newly approved metal detector regulations specify that the scanners can be used “to conduct random or reasonable-suspicion screening in its facilities and at school-sponsored events.”

Racine Unified hopes that metal detectors work as deterrents

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The district is currently in the process of training administrators and school staff how to use the detectors and how to follow the board policy regarding their use.

“We want to make sure that we’re as efficient as possible through this process so that we’re not delaying anyone and preventing them from getting to class on time,” Gordon said.

The district does not have an estimated time for when it will send information to families about the metal detectors or when it will start scans. Those decisions will likely be made during a district Safety Committee meeting this week, according to Unified spokeswoman Stacy Tapp.

District officials plan to begin using the detectors primarily at the high schools this year, and might move on to trying them out at some middle schools, if time allows.

“I think it’s a tool in our safety kit that we want to make sure we have available whenever we need it and wherever that might be,” Gordon said.

Some of the regulations outlined in the district’s metal detector policy are:

Racine Unified looks to finalize metal detector rules
  • To prevent certain students from being singled out for searches, every person entering the building must be searched, or searches must be done on a random basis.
  • If, after conducting a search with the metal detectors, it is determined that the object that triggered the detector is not a weapon, the student should not be further searched.
  • All pat-down searches of students must be conducted by staff of the same gender.

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Reporter

Caitlin Sievers covers cops, crime and the west-end communities. She's a lover of cats, dance and Harry Potter. Before moving to the Racine area she worked at small papers in Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska.

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