NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Newport News School District said its goal is to have metal detectors in all schools by March 14. In addition, board members want to hire more security guards this week to monitor the systems.
Currently, two schools in the district have weapon detection systems, also known as metal detectors—Richneck Elementary School and Heritage High School. The school district said 74 weapon detection systems have been ordered that will be delivered by the end of this month.
“We want our students to feel safe and excited about coming to school. We want to continue supporting our teachers," said Newport News Public Schools Chief of Staff Rashard Wright. "We’ve heard from our teachers, staff and faculty that they wanted to take additional measures so we’re doing that."
Wright said the district’s goal is to have two security guards in all Newport News elementary schools by March 14.
In Newport News high schools, there are six security guards; middle schools have three. The district will have a hiring event this Saturday to hire additional guards.
“We’re also going to ensure our security officers are trained and are prepared to use our metal detectors,” Wright said.
Parents still voiced their concerns at a school board meeting Tuesday night, one day after a fifth-grader at Richneck Elementary texted other students about shooting up the school.
“There has been another 6-year-old found with a gun at a nearby district. Just yesterday, violent threats were reported at Richneck Elementary. This is not just a Richneck problem, this is a national problem," one parent said before the board. "Parents dread a call from NNPS every day."
James Graves, the president of the Newport News Education Association said he wants to see a change in student discipline.
“The metal detectors, that’s fine. But the behavior issue is what we need to target," he said. "Our kids need to have a wake-up call from elementary to high school. Consequences need to be addressed when they have behavioral issues."
The Newport News district said it plans to hire behavioral support coaches in the upcoming months to support teachers when it comes to responding to students' behavior.