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Weapons on campuses down following random search policy

Posted: 11:34 AM, Feb 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-09 02:30:26-05
Weapons on campuses down following random search policy
Weapons on campuses down following random search policy
Weapons on campuses down following random search policy

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Three months into the Clark County School District's random weapons search policy, the tactic has turned up no weapons.

District leaders say more than a dozen searches have been conducted since Superintendent Jesus Jara announced the policy in mid-October.

"We haven't found any guns. We did find a toy gun that someone had brought because they are in a play and it was a prop in a play," district spokeswoman Kirsten Searer said.

The policy was initiated after a spike in the number of students caught with guns on campus in the first two months of the school year.

"If our kids don't feel safe then they can't learn," Jara said.

Under the policy, middle and high School campuses are randomly selected by computer for searches.

The first type of searches involve administrators using handheld metal detectors to check a predetermined number of students as they enter the school. The other involves the computer randomly selecting a classroom on the campus to be searched.

"We've made it very clear to students that we will not tolerate weapons on campus," Searer said.

In total 12 students have been caught with weapons on school campuses this school year. Three of those have come since the random search policy was put in place but were not found because of random searches.

While the searches haven't turned up the weapons, principals like Dave Wilson at El Dorado High School say the potential for a search lets students know the district is serious.

"All you are doing is sending two messages. Number one, don't even think about bringing a weapon to school. But number two to the students who see it they see it and say you re trying to keep me safe, thank you," Wilson said.

While El Dorado hasn't come up in the searches this year, Wilson said his students are no stranger to the searches.

"For us, it will be normal because we do it so often," Wilson said.

In the first year at El Dorado in 2015-2016, Wilson's staff confiscated 60 knives alone but that number has dropped dramatically in his three years at the helm.

"I believe this year I've taken maybe two, so when students are aware that you are going to be searching them when it appears something is wrong," Wilson said.

As a principal, Wilson uses the Supreme Court's decision in the TLO vs. New Jersey case as his guide.

The 33-year-old ruling says school administrators need only reasonable suspicion to search a student's bag, not a search warrant because there is a reduced expectation of privacy on campus.

"The goal is to keep our students safe. It is not to intrude upon their rights," Wilson said.

Under district policy, the random weapon searches are also conducted by members of the school's administration instead of district police.

You can read the full CCSD policy here.

In addition to the policy, CCSD also added 4 K9 to the police department in an effort to sniff out weapons on campus.

The officers are trained to detect different scents associated with guns and were deployed onto campuses in January.

What is Raising The Bar?

Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News will lead the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future. If you have a story idea, email us at raisingthebar@ktnv.com.

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