Philadelphia students protest after school board votes in favor of metal detectors

Friday, March 29, 2019
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The Philadelphia School Board Thursday voted 7-2 to require all of its high schools use metal detectors as reported by Dann Cuellar during Action News at 11 on March 28, 2019.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Protesters took over a Philadelphia School Board meeting after a controversial 7-2 vote to require all of its high schools to use metal detectors.

"Shame!!" yelled Julien Terrell, executive director of the Philadelphia Student Union. Terrell approached the school board and did not allow them to conduct any further business after the vote.

"Julien, Julien this is not how we model discourse, this is not how we model discourse," said Superintendent Doctor William Hite.

Currently, the Philadelphia School District says 46 of 49 of the district's high schools use walk-through metal detectors and X-ray scanners. Three do not. Board members who are proponents say all schools should uniformly use the security equipment.

The District says last year security personnel using metal detectors and scanners confiscated three fire firearms, 5 BB guns, and 87 cutting instruments.

The three schools that do not use the equipment are magnet schools. The schools are the Workshop School, Science Leadership Academy and the Science Leadership Academy at Berber.

Some students in those schools working with the Philadelphia Student Union are highly critical of the measure before the board.

They question the effectiveness of metal detectors. Some view the proposal as part of the so-called "school to prison pipeline," part of what they believe is a larger effort to intimidate minority students.

But it was all in futility because the protestors would ultimately take over the meeting.

"I'd like to recess the meeting of the board," said Board president Joyce Wilkerson. "Can I get a motion to take a recess," she added.

Councilwoman Helen Gym spoke against controversial Policy 805.

"I think the core issue is that Policy 805 should have started with student voices rather than a vote," she said.

But Board member Julia Danny begged to differ.

"While I would love ya to love me, my job, more importantly, is keeping you safe," she said.

Dr. Hite had vowed to listen to the students' concerns about being made to feel like criminals upon entering school.

"We're gonna do work over the summer to re-train everyone whose managing these devices because it's incumbent upon us the adults to make sure students feel valued," said Hite.

But in the end, that didn't seem to make any difference to the protestors. They vowed to continue to show their displeasure.

Taking over a school board meeting is no way to make your voices heard, Dr. Hite said to the group.