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Richmond school leader pitches updated safety plan: No phones. Longer day. More gun sweeps.

Posted at 3:58 PM, May 01, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. — The same day the student arrested for a shooting outside George Wythe High School in Richmond appeared in court, a Richmond School Board member planned to introduce school safety policy changes.

Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young's $3.5 million worth of proposed changesinclude:

  • Prohibiting students from accessing their phones during the school day
  • Lowering the bar to what kind of threat triggers an automatic Threat Assessment Team evaluation
  • Increasing random drug and weapons sweeps
  • Increasing opportunities for students to get social and emotional support from outside providers
  • Extending the school day 30 minutes for "play”
  • Increasing the percentage of students who walk or bike to school

Young's proposals will be introduced at a meeting Monday night, hours after 18-year-old George Wythe shooting suspect David Gutierrez made his initial court appearance in Richmond.
Gutierrez was charged with two counts of attempted murder and two gun charges in relation to the shooting of two Wythe students in a school parking lot on April 27.

Citing the need to "ensure the integrity of the case," neither Richmond Police nor the Richmond Public Schools system has released additional details about the circumstances that led to the shootings.

Students shot outside George Wythe High School

“There are all kinds of obvious questions, and the reality is we do a really poor job at being transparent," Young said prior to Monday night's meeting. "Students have a right to privacy, but parents have a right to know if their kids are safe in school or not.”

Other items included in Young's proposals are to prohibit any student who brings a weapon into the school from physically returning to school and to double the number of enrollment seats at the alternative school to accommodate students kicked out of a traditional classroom.

Young said many of these efforts had been in the works, but the Wythe shooting served as a wake-up call to put them into action.

"Our kids are not well," he said. "They are anxious, they are scared. They are frustrated, they are often depressed, and they don’t feel safe.”

When CBS 6 contacted other school board members about Young's proposal, they said they agreed with certain aspects but wanted to have a more robust conversation during Monday's meeting.

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