The Daytona Beach News-Journal | By Danielle Johnson | September 21, 2022
Less than a week after a gun threat evolved into what police called a “cruel prank,” which sent Mainland High School into a lockdown, Volusia County Schools has expressed intentions to order metal detectors.
Superintendent Carmen Balgobin mentioned the news during a lengthy discussion on school safety at the Sept. 13 school board meeting.
It’s one of a number of methods to increase campus safety against internal and external threats. Other plans include meeting with law enforcement to discuss each school’s safety plans, reviewing the district’s code of conduct and sending messages home to parents.
“This allows us to perhaps deter those who are maybe thinking of bringing something to school, but that’s what prompted it, is that we want to have one more layer to provide that safety and security that our students, staff and community deserve,” Angel Gomez, director of community information services, said by phone Monday.
Volusia high schools will receive metal detectors
Public records confirmed that on Sept. 16 the district sent a letter of intent to Garrett Metal Detectors to purchase 30 units and additional equipment for $90,463.39. The purchase will go before the school board for final approval at next Tuesday’s meeting.
Gomez said that three metal detectors would go to each high school.
The district lists the following high schools on its website: Atlantic, DeLand, Deltona, Mainland, New Smyrna Beach, Pine Ridge, Seabreeze, Spruce Creek and University high schools, as well as T. Dewitt Taylor Middle High.
Records indicate the district intends to purchase PD 6500i Walk Through Metal Detectors from Garrett Metal Detectors, which is based in Garland, Texas.
They will be the first metal detectors in district schools, aside from handheld detectors that can be used as needed, Gomez said.
The district will pay $2,657.53 per walk-through detector, plus another $96.70 each for 30 more handheld scanners, the quote shows.
VCS won’t be the only district to have purchased metal detectors recently. In Duval County, the school board approved $7 million to lease metal detectors at the district’s 23 high schools and alternative schools in August.
Gomez said the decision to consider metal detectors was related to “everything that’s going on around the district and Florida and public school systems with all the different threats, false threats and all these things that kids are doing.”
Metal detector purchase comes shortly after Mainland gun scare
The district received a quote from the metal detector company on Sept. 13, just four days after the incident at Mainland the previous Friday.
A gun threat had been written on a bathroom stall on Thursday — which has become a common occurrence for that particular stall — and officials determined that threat to be unfounded, the district and Daytona Beach Police Department had said.
Two groups of students capitalized on the threat the following day, police said, telling a school employee that someone had a gun and running out of the cafeteria to cause a commotion, which sent students into a panic and prompted the employee to press the alert button.
Multiple students have told The News-Journal or posted on social media that they heard what sounded like gunshots, but the department and district say there’s no evidence shots were fired.
The police department responded and cleared each room without finding a weapon.
Gomez did not have a date that the district is expecting to receive or install the metal detectors. He also did not have information yet on how they would be used, whether for daily student entry or in some other capacity.
Other existing safety measures in the district include the use of guardians and school resource officers and deputies to keep campuses safe; the FortifyFL app for reporting suspicious activities; and continued investments in security cameras, fencing and other security procedures.