BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Public Schools are trying to beef up security after recent acts of violence, but parents are still looking for progress.
Sources close to the district say it plans to put metal detectors in every BPS building soon, but some parents wonder if this new technology is enough to curb violence. Several parents said they were optimistic at the beginning of the school year. Just one week into the 2022-2023 year, a student stabbed another with a steak knife in the girls bathroom. The teenage suspect was arraigned on assault charges without bail.
“If you can prevent students from bringing a weapon into school, you make it a safer environment where students are less concerned about their safety and more interested in learning,” Jeff Rinaldo, partner at Vista Security Group, told News 4.
Safety in school is still top of mind for some parents. Several addressed security problems at the September Board of Education meeting. They criticized that students were being wanded inconsistently, despite new policy that requires all high school students to be wanded. After the incident in September, the district required secruity staff to wand students head to toe including under the feet. All students’ backpacks will be checked as well. Some parents say this strategy is not enough.
“I don’t see how its feasible to do it every day. What time do you expect the kids to go to their first class?” Edward Speidel, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC), added.
Rinaldo says wanding is not a long term solution because there could be human error. He says new screening systems that allow students to pass through sensors are a better option because they are more efficient and accurate.
“The newer technology out there allows you to screen faster and much more efficiently and has a better rate of not producing false alarms,” Rinaldo said.
The 2022-2025 BPS Strategic Plan says they are prioritizing safety, security and wellness. Part of their plan is to “purchase and have installed state-of-the-art metal detectors for all BPS schools.”
“We’re being told that there’s a good chance that that’s what we are going to get. There’s no definite yet. It’s coming down, but I don’t see this for 90 days or so,” Speidel said.
Buffalo Public Schools set aside more than$300,000 of American Rescue Plan and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief money for security upgrades last year. From 2021 to 2024, $360,000 will be spent on security. Parent leaders say the district has the money to put new technology in every building.
“There was money put aside for those and we are holding them accountable for that. Hopefully it is coming through soon,” Speidel continued.
Rinaldo says the district has taken steps to increase security, but he says new technology will make the schools even safer.
“The new Superintendent is committed to making safety and security her top priority. She recognizes the fact that unless a student feels safe, learning cannot happen,” Rinaldo said.
Buffalo Public Schools declined to comment for this story. At the previous Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams said school security keeps her up at night and it remains her top priority.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.