Schools in Prince William County will have weapons detectors at the doors starting next year under a plan presented to the school board on Wednesday.
At its meeting on Wednesday, the board heard a presentation by Superintendent LaTanya McDade on the plan to install weapons-detection systems in all 35 of the county’s middle schools, high schools, and non-traditional schools, the Prince William Times reported.
The systems would be installed in August and September, according to the plan. The board will vote on the plan May 3.
The school system will lease the systems for four years at a total cost of $10.7 million under the plan. There’ll also be about $750,000 to pay staff to show up to work early to help with the monitoring.
The security lines will be monitored by administrative and security staff, as well as instructional and non-instructional workers.
More details on weapons detectors
Each high school will have three entry points that are covered by the security systems; each middle school will have two.
If the machines find a potentially disallowed item on a student, the student will be taken to a secondary screening. If a weapon is found, the student won’t be allowed in, and police and parents will be called.
The detectors have about a 9 percent rate of false alerts. Over the summer, the school system will send parents and guardians a list of items that students commonly carry into school that are allowed, but might set off the detectors.
The school system says the technology can detect knives, guns, and explosives; it can spot 3D-printed and ghost guns as well as traditionally built firearms.
More than one student at a time can pass through the detectors. No data from the sensors will be publicly released, the plan says. If the police get involved and need data for a prosecution, they have to get a subpoena.
The detection technology, called Evolv, is used at the Pentagon; Amazon; more than 30 professional sports venues; the Smithsonian museums; and more than 500 schools in the U.S., including Alexandria and Manassas City, in Northern Virginia.
The school system said in a statement that McDade had talked with police and school safety officers in coming up with the plan, and community members at engagement sessions were supportive of the concept.
“I fully support this recommendation,” School Board Chairman At-Large Babur Lateef said in the statement. “The School Board intends to approve these systems and implement them this fall.”
You can read the plan online.
For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine’s News newsletter.