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Philly School District To Begin Periodical Weapons Screenings At Middle Schools Beginning May 9

By Jasmine Payoute,


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some security changes are coming to Philadelphia public schools. The district will start periodically screening students for weapons starting on Monday

Screening for weapons is something already done in Philadelphia public high schools. Starting Monday, the district will add middle schools to the list because of the violence.

It’s a ripple effect Philadelphia school officials say is spilling into the school system.

“They copy what they see. They see guns they bring guns,” Philadelphia School District Chief of School Safety Kevin Bethel said.

On Thursday, school leaders sent out a letter to parents.

It addresses what they call an increase in gun-related incidents and violence by rolling out weapons screenings in middle schools and elementary schools with grades six through eight.

“We’ve had at least four occurrences. Two where we actually had guns in the school another one where a kid fired a weapon a block away from school after leaving school. We believe that child had that gun in school,” Bethel said.

According to the letter, the screenings will take place at six schools per day. They’ll be conducted by school safety personnel and will include searches by a hand wand, mobile metal detector and a physical check of all bags.

“What our kids need right now in this moment is love, support, care and fun. They don’t need to be treated like they’re criminals,” Philadelphia City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said.

Gauthier called the move a step in the wrong direction, one she was not aware of.

“I have a lot of questions about this, about why Council wasn’t engaged about this idea, why no one asked us our opinion. I don’t know how the community was engaged on this idea, I have a ton of questions and concerns,” she said.

But for Philadelphia parents like Thomesha Butler, her only concern is her daughter’s safety. While she admits the screenings could be scary, they’re necessary.

“It could be kind of scary for them but I think that it’s a good idea to start doing because we’re in a city school,” Butler said.

According to the letter, students will get a chance to get rid of items prior to being screened without consequences. Students found with a firearm will be referred to the Philadelphia Police Department.

CBS3’s Jan Carabeo contributed to this report.

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