The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

School board representatives discuss increased security measures

<p>At the recent meeting, school board representatives discussed possibilities for increased security measures to reduce the amount of weapons being brought into Richmond public schools.</p>

At the recent meeting, school board representatives discussed possibilities for increased security measures to reduce the amount of weapons being brought into Richmond public schools.

City of Richmond school board representatives discussed security measures at their meeting on March 4, after multiple weapons were found in student’s backpacks. 

The discussion follows the incident last month when a second grader brought a loaded gun to Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary School, which resulted in no injuries, according to the presentation

The students’ family member, Cornelius Robinson, was charged eight days later with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to ABC 8 News

Director of Safety and Security John Beazley reported that knives and BB guns have been found at RPS elementary schools this year. 

The presentation explored adding metal detectors to elementary schools as a result of the increase in weapons found. Board members including Mariah White, Elizabeth Doerr, Shavonda Dixon and Dawn Page expressed concern about this addition. 

“We want to make sure we have a safe environment,” Dixon said. But we also want to treat them with love and respect.”  

Doerr asked if the committee had thought of ways to reduce bias in checking backpacks. Beazley explained that parents show a similar concern but did not discuss any explored efforts in reference to Doerr’s concerns. Board members, such as Dixon and Stephanie Rizzie showed apprehension similar to Doerr. 

Beazley’s presentation also discussed an update on the implementation of Yondr pouches in voluntary Richmond Public Schools as an effort to reduce the use of phones. The presentation assessed if the policy has had an impact on student learning, mental health, engagement and disruptions such as fights. 

The early observations show positive reactions from staff and negative reactions from students. While 58.6% of staff feel the program is successful, 81.4% of students feel the program is unsuccessful, according to the presentation. 

Student representative Tianna Goins shared feedback from herself and her peers on the new phone policy.

“It seems contradicting and, in a way, insulting, and for students like myself, anxious,” Goins said. 

Goins also said she has seen an increase in late students, hallway disruptions and students taking methods to circumvent having their phones taken away, such as putting calculators in the pouches instead of their phones. 

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Vice chair of RPS Cheryl Burke expressed her support for the phone policy. Goins’ complaints were seldom addressed. 

RPS will continue their implementation of care and safety measures to encourage safer learning environments for all students, as well as explore other measures such as clear backpacks. 

Contact City and State editor Ava Humphries at

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