Looking through the Metal Detectors- What Metal Detectors would mean for Lakeside
Between 7:15 and 8:05 AM, over 2,000 Lakeside students
stand outside the main entrance doors in lines wrapped around the building, waiting to enter school. Many around the Lakeside community imagine this fate for their mornings following the installment of metal detectors. Last March, the Dekalb County School Board approved the Pilot Program to place metal detectors at five high schools in the school district, including Lakeside High School. The school district introduced the pilot program to parents on August 20, after Principal Damian Bounds emailed them a survey asking them to express their “invaluable input”. However, the previous approval of the program brings the weight of parent input into question. “As if me saying ‘no’ would make a difference, after the county has already spent thousands of dollars on these machines,” said concerned Lakeside parent Virginia Bernardin.
Regardless of how the county will use the survey responses, people who will actually be using the metal detectors
day in and day out haven’t had the chance to give their opinions. To address these concerns, we gave Lakeside
students a chance to express their thoughts and concerns by providing them with the same survey questions that
were given to parents.
Trailing Behind!: Unlike the main building, the outdoor trailers will not have any sort of screening process to date, leaving them out of the Pilot Program.
We asked 100 students to identify advantages and disadvantages the Pilot Program would pose as well as
their comments/concerns. The majority of the answers consisted of fewer weapons and safety as on of the biggest
advantages. Several responded “metal detectors would keep our school safer." On the other hand, the disadvantages
focused more on longer lines to get into school, having everyday items (belts, chromebooks, etc.) flagged, time, and
the cost. “This will decrease privacy and increase instructional time being wasted, you'll hear an alarm go off every
minute because of someone's binder or chromebook,” said one surveyed student.
The school board approved a budget of 150,000 dollars, not including trained personnel required to man
the machines, to spend on the program. The Dekalb Department of Public Safety chose Ackerman Security to supply
and place the Metal Detectors at Lakeside in March, 2019. 150,000 dollars is a hefty amount to spend on four metal
detectors in our school and leads one to wonder how the funding could be used more efficiently; investing in
protection that includes the trailers, for instance, allows all students the same level of safety, regardless of the
location of their classroom.“I always feel safer while inside the school, rather than being in the trailers, trailers have
less protection and are literally in open space, anyone can just walk up to the them.” said Junior Camille Betoulle.
Teachers will also endure the effects of the new metal detectors. “I’m just curious how it’s going to work;
there are students who stay after school for extracurricular activities that last as late as eight, and people coming into
school as early as 6:30,” said Lakeside Math Teacher Bridget Langan-Puckett.
The Lakeside administration has yet to announce how the school district selected our school for the
program, where students will wait to pass through metal detectors (weather not permitting), how delays in passing
through the detectors will impact first period instructional time, and many other concerns. Only time will tell if
Lakeside and Dekalb will utilize students’ and parents’ “invaluable input” when dealing with the logistical concerns
they will face this coming March.