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How Central Virginia districts are responding to weapons being brought inside schools

Posted at 11:16 PM, Feb 07, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Across Central Virginia, school districts have been dealing with the issue of students bringing guns and other weapons into schools. The growing problem comes at a time when many school boards are looking ahead to what they want to be funded for the next academic year.

On Tuesday, parents at Chesterfield's L.C. Bird High School received a notification that a student had been found with a gun in their backpack. The 17-year-old student was taken into custody, according to Chesterfield Police.

At this time, police have not shared if the gun was loaded.

In an email to the school community, the high school's principal asked for parents to explain to their children the consequences of bringing a gun on campus, listing consequences such as suspension, expulsion and even time in a juvenile detention center.

Just four months ago, the same school had an incident where a student was outside of the school with a gun.

At their Tuesday night meeting, the school board touched on their proposed budget, which includes an increase of counselor coverage in schools and more funding for a second assistant manager of safety and security. The board is also looking at other projects, like improving entrances and lobbies.

"Making sure our staff feels safe when they are in school and our students feel safe when they are in school. That has to be one of our number one priorities," Chesterfield County School Board Chairwoman Ann Coker said.

Chesterfield is not the only Central Virginia school district that is dealing with students bringing weapons to school.

Since 2021, Richmond Public Schools recovered 43 weapons in schools. RPS did not specify how many of the weapons were firearms.

Henrico Schools said they have recovered 119 weapons including 13 guns.

All three school boards are discussing safety upgrades and additional funding that they hope will improve the well-being of students and staff members.

At a Monday night meeting, school safety officials presented to the Richmond School Board how they secured funding to install passcard entry systems for key doors, an intruder alert system and an upgrade to video surveillance systems. The district also asked the board for consideration to expand metal detectors in schools.

The Henrico School Board will hear an update on safety in schools in a meeting on Thursday night. According to a presentation, the update will include more vestibules being added to schools, additional K9 sweeps and the testing of metal detectors and weapon-detection scanners.

Henrico Schools' Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell shared her thoughts on school safety with CBS 6 in late January after a loaded gun was recovered from a middle school.

"I am calling on our families and our caregivers to have conversations with our students about the real consequences of making school threats of bringing weapons on campus," Cashwell said.

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