Loud protest over metal detectors disrupts Philly school board meeting

Mike DeNardo
March 29, 2019 - 4:00 am
Activists opposed to the policy then disrupted Friday night's meeting as a divided school board has approved a policy requiring all district high schools to use walk-through metal detectors.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A divided school board has approved a policy requiring all district high schools to use walk-through metal detectors. Activists opposed to the policy then disrupted Thursday night's meeting. 

Superintendent William Hite says of 54 high schools only three do not use them, and it's a matter of consistency. 

"Metal detectors are intended to keep everyone in the building safe. Students and staff must know there are intentional levels of protection in their schools that they can rely on," Hite said. 

Some students, including Nayeli Perez from the Academy at Palumbo, made impassioned arguments against the devices.

"It wasn't until this year that I really asked myself why metal detectors are so commonplace nowadays. And in school, of all places. As if we're just criminals waiting to happen, and not just kids," Perez said. 

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Board member Chris McGinley said the policy was about protecting students.

"I, also as a principal, in an environment of trust with students I knew, on two occasions took loaded guns away from students," McGinley said.

The board voted 7-2 to approve the policy, and then members of the Philadelphia Student Union started shouting "shame." 

The board tried to continue its business, but board president Joyce Wilkerson recessed the meeting and left the auditorium. The activists then sat down in the board members' seats and convened what they called "the people's school board."  

The actual board went to a committee room and finished voting in private while streaming the proceedings online.