Metal detector wands among security additions at Orange County schools

Students return to classes on Monday

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - From wand metal detectors to more school resource officers, Orange County leaders detailed what's new when it comes to school security ahead of Monday's first day of school. 

Dr. Barbara Jenkins, superintendent for Orange County Schools, held up one of the new metal detectors wands that principals and assistant principals will be using at high schools and middle schools. 

"You will see these the first day of school," she said. "Every day, any day, through the day, all day our students be checked and can be wanded, so do not bring (anything) inappropriate on campus." 

More than 200,000 students attend school in Orange County, making it one of the largest school districts in the nation. 

There will be at least one school resource officer in every school in the county, equipped with an active shooter kit, as well as protective gear and a rifle for some Orange County deputies. 

"We want parents and children to be familiar with this particular kind of uniform," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.  

In all, the district received from the state nearly $10 million to spend on additional school resource officers as well as 18 new mental health counselors for students.

"We have to deal with our young people and those issues just as aggressively as scanning for metal on campus," Jenkins said.  

School Board chairman Bill Sublette was emphatic that the school district does not plan on revisiting arming certain school employees as part of the state's guardian program.  

"(Guardians) do not go through the training of law enforcement," Sublette said. "Frankly, we think it's ironic that the entire concept of introducing additional firearms on campus in the hands of untrained personnel."  

The district is also asking parents to be role models on social media by not posting issues within the schools on social media, as well as reminding their children that any social media threats could lead to quite a bit of trouble.  

"For any parent, you got to be invested in the life of your child, you need to know what they're doing on social media," Orlando police Chief John Mina said.  

Parents are also encouraged to store and lock their firearms properly. 

"We have had cases where students bring firearms to school," Mina said. "We need those firearms properly secured at home and even if the child or student didn't mean to do it, it's still a felony crime." 

District leaders said they will also increase random metal detector screenings, which they have conducted since 2013. 

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