Aug 19, 2022 - News

APS, Fulton schools use technology to beef up security

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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

With schools across metro Atlanta back in session, district leaders are taking various steps to keep students and staff safe.

Why it matters: The tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers has districts across the country scrambling to improve security for the new academic year.

What's happening: Atlanta Public Schools will add more metal detectors in high-traffic areas at middle and high schools, schools police chief Ronald Applin told Axios.

  • Applin said about $2.6 million has been budgeted for the project.

Next school year, Applin said the district will begin installing security vestibules at elementary schools that would redirect a visitor to the front office instead of having immediate access to classrooms.

In Fulton County, the district will install audible alarms on doors that are not used as the primary entrance and exit points at schools in the coming months.

  • Fulton County Superintendent Mike Looney said he will ask the Board of Education in September to approve license plate readers to scan vehicles that come on school properties.
  • "Of course, we can never guarantee that an event's not going to happen," Looney told Axios. "But our board is resolved to do everything that we reasonably can to make sure it doesn't."

Zoom out: The use of metal detectors is gaining traction in some districts. In metro Atlanta, Clayton County Schools plans to spend a little more than $5 million to install metal detectors in its middle and high schools, the AJC previously reported.

Yes, but: School districts should be mindful of how security measures like metal detectors can make students feel like they are being imprisoned, Thaddeus Johnson, an assistant professor of criminology & criminal justice at Georgia State University's Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, told Axios.

He noted such devices are often deployed in schools that have majority-minority populations.

  • "We need school safety, and we need some measures, right?" Johnson said. "But we can't be over-policing our students who have already come from over-policed neighborhoods."
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