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WS/FCS considering more security options after guns found in schools

The district is currently doing an assessment of security protocols in schools and other policy changes will need to come from the Board of Education.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools are considering several options, like a clear bag policy or metal detectors, for school security after four guns have been brought inside schools this month. However, the final decision would need to come with Board of Education input. 

A spokesperson for the school district said different options are "being considered." The district is doing an overall assessment of schools needs right now. Following the shooting at Mount Tabor, a gun was found at the school, and guns were found at Parkland High School and Paisley Middle School.

The superintendent can make temporary rules, like allowing only clear bags at large school-sponsored events, but the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Board of Education makes policy decisions, especially regarding funding. The funding ultimately comes from the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners. 

"The county commissioners in Forsyth County give the schools in this county $140 million a year," board chairman David Plyler said. "We provide $80 million a year to the sheriff's department and, if need be, we give them additional money for any type of emergency that comes up. We're doing that."

Parents and community members on the WS/FCS Facebook page have called for the use of metal detectors in schools or a clear bag, or even no bag, policy. 

However, research has shown little evidence that metal detectors prevent school shootings or detect all weapons. They are also expensive to buy, staff, and maintain. Another drawback, according to researchers, is that students in schools with metal detectors are "more likely to perceive violence and disorder and less likely to feel safe than students in schools without metal detectors."

"In the years since 1968 I have never seen situations going on where law enforcement is concerned and teens are concerned and where schools are concerned," Chairman Plyler said. "I’ve never seen all that at one time.”

Chairman Plyler said the Board of Commissioners is committed to stopping the violence in schools.

"The school board, the commissioners, the sheriff's office, we're all together singing from the same songbook, and our target and our desire is to get this thing taken care of lawfully legally and for good," Plyler said.

But Plyler said he is confident in Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough to deliver a solution. 

"I think Sheriff Kimbrough has got his handle on it and he’s emotionally involved, he’s professionally involved and I think there were others working with him including the Winston-Salem PD," Plyler said. "It just makes me feel optimistic that there is an end to this we just don’t know what the date and time is.”

News 2 did email all members of the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Board of Education Thursday to get their comments on the situation. 

Board of Education member Andrea Bramer sent the following statement to News 2 following this story's airing and publication:

"I can speak for myself as a citizen, but not the will of the board. I cannot confirm or deny the number of firearms collected. I can tell you the board is working thoughtfully and thoroughly with law enforcement, especially Sheriff Kimbrough and his office. Their leadership has taken this threat to our student and staff well being seriously.

Personally, I have attended meetings with ‘Moms Demand Action’ and ‘Everytown’ speakers to become more aware of the statistics and what other states and the federal government are doing to protect our people. Politically there is a concern over legal guns vs ghost guns. There are wait period considerations for legal guns to lower rash emotional actions. Attempts to address safety issues in the home to protect minors from having unsupervised access to guns. There are so many variables that make possession of a firearm in a minor’s hands that pinning down one answer isn’t the way. This takes a multifaceted approach and time.

As a parent with two high school students in the system, I can tell you I am very concerned. We have family meetings where my husband, Brian, both children and I discuss openly. We discuss the unacceptably of student-on-student violence. We discuss reporting a concern to the proper resource while minimizing risk, but still see something say something. We discuss the fear of what has happened with the Mount Tabor shooting and other school shootings throughout the country past and present. We discuss how to not panic in the case of any incident or lockdown, but act to help yourself and others. We discuss mental health and the stress of high school."

I don’t have all of the answers, but I take the safety of our students and staff seriously and will continue to work to do the best to protect them."

Board member Lida Hayes Culvert emailed News 2 Friday noting she is out of town.