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DeKalb School Board approves second year of lease for metal detectors

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DeKalb School Board approves second year of lease for metal detectors

Commander Craig Blakley and Board of Education Chair Diijon DaCosta demonstrate new weapons detection system. Photo by Sara Amis

This story has been updated. 

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County School Board at its Sept. 18 called meeting voted to approve Year 2 of a lease with Evolv Weapons Detection at a cost not to exceed $1.6 million.

This will be paid for by a grant that DCSD applied for and was awarded from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budgets. The grant is titled “Public Safety and Community Violence Reduction Strategies,” and is for roughly $1.65 million.

In their discussion of this item last week, the school board asked the superintendent’s office to present a report with the findings of the effectiveness of the program, but since the program began this year and the district is only two months into the school year, there hasn’t been enough data collected for a comprehensive report.

Also, in order to be eligible for the grant which covers the entire cost of Year 2, the school board must approve it by Sept. 30.

The board members expressed their commitment to student safety as a top priority, and Board Member Allyson Gevertz expressed appreciation for the grant as the school district looks to continue to monitor the success of the program.

Gevertz said, “We don’t have all of our data that we are going to want to deliberate on and process before we decide whether it’s worth an investment from our general fund.”

“Hopefully, the statistics show that we have way fewer weapons, that kids are getting through quickly and easily…,” Gevertz continued. “I’m thankful we have this year to make sure we get all of our data, so we can make the right decision moving forward.”

In their application for the grant, the district cited  “staggering increases in violence in schools” as the reason for implementing this program.

In their grant application, the district reported it had 3,569 fights and 246 weapons violations in 2019-2020, 40 fights and 21 weapons-related violations in the pandemic affected 2020-2021, then in 2021-2022 the district to 4,135 fights and 312 weapons violations, an increase from pre-pandemic levels in both categories.

In 2022-2023, there were 926 fights and 110 weapons violations.

“These staggering increases in violence in the schools directly align to the need for immediate additional support and technology systems that will assist in the protection of the students and staff,”  said the district in its application.

Board Chair Diijon DaCosta Sr. reiterated the district’s commitment first and foremost to student safety but also to transparency in monitoring the success of the program.

He alluded to the district receiving regular reports about the program. He and members of district staff clarified that logistics will be worked out on a school-by-school basis, giving the schools the freedom to adopt the program in the way that works best for them.

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