Or so it felt on this morning of Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2019, when GOT was drafted into the team of on-site personnel to conduct a search of all bags and a wanding of all students.
GOT wielded a wand. As teenagers shuffled up to the table to drop their bookbags, gift bags (it was Valentine’s Day and teenage hormones never take a holiday), turned to me and extended their arms at shoulder height, GOT wielded his magic wand with the ability to detect metal.
Any metal. All metal. Keys, cell phones, wallets (something metal in there), ids and their lanyards, the magic wand found them all.
Not to mention the rivets in jeans, zippers, the brass button used to fasten the waistband of pants, and even the metal in the concrete floor. Fortunately, GOT remembered to hold the button that decreased his wand’s sensitivity so he wouldn’t have to go all in and make the kids take their shoes off.
When wished a Happy Valentine’s Day by his students once all students had been screened and he reached his first period class, GOT had to laugh and respond, “Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Did you like our special celebration, in which you had to pull up the hem of your shirt so we could confirm that the magic wand was only detecting your belt buckle?”
Every high school in my county, because the school district is county-wide, conducted this exercise this morning. Every high school student arriving on campus was put through a search and a wanding. That’s 22 campuses and 30,979 students.
The justification offered was that we don’t know if a teenager might decide to duplicate the massacre that happened one year ago. This effort reassures everyone, students, parents, citizens et al., that we did something to prevent a reoccurrence of school violence.
This is like trying to open a new bank account. Because 0.3% (that’s not a real statistic, GOT is pulling it out of the air but estimates that the number is in the ballpark, as the expression goes) of people who go to a bank to open an account have a criminal intention, the rest of us–99.7%–have to prove to the bank we are not a crook. (Not to slam banks because federal and state regulations require them to treat us this way.)
We have to put all students through the experience because maybe one in 30,979 (0.003% or only a three in ten thousand chance) of students might do something horrific.
How high is the Powerball prize this week? Maybe the odds of winning are better than the odds of a repeat.
Strictly speaking, that’s not true, but hyperbole is the stock and trade of everyone who writes persuasively.
We put everyone through the wringer when there is a better way and it was a part of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act signed into law almost a year ago.
Every school must have a Threat Assessment Team (TAT).
The TAT consists of a teacher, a guidance counselor, an administrator, and the SRO (School Resource Officer.)
I am the teacher for my school.
I know the truth.
Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, has asked the Florida Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate school districts’ compliance with the 2018 law and their efforts to ensure school safety for students.
My superintendent touts the policy passed by my school board a month ago, says the teams have been organized and seems to imply that they are doing what they are supposed to do. She sent an email today to all employees to make this point.
Never have I been so conflicted. Do I speak out? GOT wants no part of a grand jury investigation.
Do I tell my principal that I will not be a member of the team?
Do I go to the next school board meeting and sign up to speak in the public comment section?
The reality of the MSD tragedy is that everyone knew the shooter was a risk and the probability was high. All the red flags were flying high.
We don’t need to screen everyone, not on any given day, not every day. We simply need to do what we know to do: identify, investigate, and act upon the very few cases of kids in crisis who meet the profile.
That would better ensure school safety.