Maryland’s largest school system considers adding metal detectors

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Amid heightened awareness of gun violence and school safety, the largest public school system in Maryland is considering adding metal detectors to student entrances.

“We will be looking at that,” said Mike Durso, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, to WTOP.

Durso’s comments followed a board meeting last week that included moving testimonies in support of the measure from two of the school system’s own students.

“I am horrified at the atrocities that have been committed at schools just like mine,” Katheryne Dwyer told board members during the meeting.

Dwyer, a student at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, spoke of school massacres such as a shooting in Parkland, Florida, in late February that left 17 people dead — sparking a nationwide, student-led movement advocating for stricter gun laws.

“As a student, my top priority is my safety,” she said.  “I propose that every school in Montgomery County have metal detectors installed.”

Dwyer’s younger sister shared the same feelings: “I believe that most students would be willing to follow the same procedure as they do at airports,” said Caroline Dwyer, a student at nearby Pyle Middle School.

During her testimony, Caroline described having frequent nightmares of a massacre at her school, where her “final moments are spent whispering on the phone to my family.”

“It is impossible for students to learn when they feel unsafe in their learning environments,” she said.

Although Durso said the board would examine the issue, he expressed concerns about the amount of money and extra personnel that could be required to implement such a system.

“It involves additional staff and hardware,” Durso said. “We’ll look at it, but I don’t know that would be an immediate solution for 205 schools.”

The board meeting also included remarks from Andrew Zuckerman, the school system’s chief operating officer, who said every single school would soon be having active shooter drills.

“Students in middle school and elementary school need to do this, and we have to have the right developmental supports in place to help kids,” Zuckerman said.

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