GLENDALE : Board Approves Use of Metal Detectors

School board members have approved a policy that allows Glendale school officials to use hand-held metal detectors to conduct weapons searches on campuses, school buses and at school events.

The measure supplements an existing weapons and dangerous instruments policy adopted in 1985, officials said. That regulation only permits administrators to search students and their lockers if officials have probable cause to do so.

"This (new policy) changes it so we can do it on a random search," said Donald W. Empey, the Glendale Unified School District's deputy superintendent of educational services. "The main idea behind that is that it is a precautionary measure . . . just one more tool we could use to make the school a safe place."

Before approving the plan unanimously Tuesday, trustees agreed that the detectors should only be used at the district's four high schools and four middle schools. Elementary schools will be exempt, unless it becomes necessary for them to implement the practice in the future.

Empey said eight portable metal detectors costing $110 each have been purchased. Only campus administrators, who are scheduled to take training courses in two weeks, will be allowed to use them.

Parents will receive notices about the new policy. Signs stating the regulation will be posted at the entrance of each high school and middle school. The district could be ready to conduct random searches by the end of May, Empey said.

Although only 12 of the more than 28,000 students in the district have been expelled this year for possessing such weapons as knives and BB guns, school officials believe that the new random search policy could keep that number down.

"Our purpose here is not to find any weapons," Empey said. "That's what we'd like to see happen."

"I find it comforting that we're doing this," said Nancy Riehl, PTA president at Crescenta Valley High School. "Anything that will protect my child, to me it would be worth doing."

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