School board approves purchase of metal detectors

The Grady County Board of Education unanimously approved the purchase of a portable metal detector and two wireless metal detecting wands for use at Cairo High School as part of what Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis is calling “one small piece of an overall program to insure student and staff safety.”
“This is not a knee jerk reaction to one incident,” the school superintendent said.
Dr. Pharis said the board and school administrators had discussed the matter and had even sought a legal opinion from Board Attorney Thomas L. Lehman before voting to purchase the metal detectors Tuesday night.
“This is just part of our overall plan for student safety. The system is designed to be used randomly or when there is some reasonable suspicion. A metal detector at the high school was purchased about 10 years ago, but it was not used that much and did not work properly,” Dr. Pharis told school board members.
After researching systems and seeking a vendor who could provide live training and nearby technical support, one vendor, Dana Safety Supply based in Greensboro, NC was identified as the preferred vendor. According to CHS Principal David McCurry, the sales representative is based in Jacksonville, FL and technical support is available in Tallahassee.
The cost of the metal detector is $3,500 and McCurry is requesting to purchase two hand-held metal detectors at a cost of $160 a piece.
Board Chairman Drew Pyrz questioned why only two hand-held units were being recommended and McCurry said he was “trying not to ask for too much.”
Dr. Pharis said the hand-held units could be shared with administrators at other schools if necessary.
McCurry noted that the walk-thru metal detector would give administrators an indicator light pinpointing the area of the body where suspected items were detected, which would eliminate the need to search the person.
“The purchase of a metal detector will be cause for concern and a perception that there is a problem at Cairo High School. That is a legitimate concern, but that is not the case. This is a proactive step and part of our overall safety program. It is important that parents and the community realize that,” Dr. Pharis said.
The board authorized up to $4,000 to purchase the metal detectors and cover the freight costs for the new security equipment.

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