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TASD addresses rumored threats by installing metal detectors at middle and high school

Due to recent rumored threats of a possible shooting in the Tyrone Area School District, administration has not hesitated in providing the utmost security measures to protect the students and staff in the district.
Once students come back to school after Thanksgiving break, Tuesday morning, November 27, students entering the middle and high school must walk through stand-alone metal detectors and/or be scanned by handheld metal detector wands. Only three doors will be open for entering the school – one at the middle school and two at the high school (one by the main office and the other by the gym lobby).
Upon entry onto school grounds, students are not permitted to leave the premises. Students with certain medical issues will not be scanned. TASD administration also added that arrival procedures at the elementary school remain unchanged.
TASD administrators, supported by school staff, school police and state police will have a presence at each of the three stations.
In an interview with The Daily Herald Friday morning, Superintendent Dr. William Miller stated that the school doors will open at 7 a.m. for students to begin entering the school, and that the district is following these procedures, as well as several other precautions, to protect the students’ rights to a threat-free, safe school environment.
“While addressing the question of a weapon, we expect to find other contraband carried by the students in pockets, backpacks, etc. – and they will be held responsible.”
When asked if the metal detectors would be a permanent fixture in the TASD, Miller said, “We’re prepared to see this through, whatever needs done, we will do it to protect our students.”
Another such measure the district is doing, besides the metal detectors, is reviewing its cell phone policy, TASD Policy 237, which outlines the use of electronic devices – in essence, cellular telephones shall be turned off during instructional and class time, during passing time between classes, and at any other time where use of the device would cause a disruption of school activities.
It was rumored that the latest threats at the school were conducted through cell phone text messaging and gossip, so the district hopes to further restrict cell phone use or reinforce the substance of the existing policy by having staff to monitor hallways between classes and to correct any inappropriate behavior.
Miller added, “Several surrounding districts require the students to keep the cell phones in their lockers – this would strengthen our policy.”
TASD administration will also meet with student council representatives to obtain their input, suggestions, cooperation and thoughts in dealing with this situation.
“This is OUR school, and it’s important for us to have our students’ input also,” stated Miller.
The school district is borrowing the three stand alone metal detectors and three hand held scanners from the Altoona Area School District. Both Altoona and Hollidaysburg have used the metal detectors in the past. The TASD has yet to purchase its own stand alone metal detectors, but after evaluation of the implementation and accessing the cost, the district will make a decision on whether or not to purchase them.
TASD has already ordered eight handheld scanners and should have them available when students arrive back at school Tuesday morning.
“Yes, it will be a cost factor,” explained Miller. “Existing staff will be used and they will be paid accordingly. The greatest cost is the loss of instructional time in our program for the students.”
Miller also stated in a press release that if the school goes into lockdown, no students will be permitted to leave or enter school buildings and no parents will be permitted on campus. Police will be stationed at all entrances to school property along Clay Avenue.
“We are restricting your student’s individual freedoms and privacy rights to protect all students and provide a threat-free learning environment. No student should fear coming to school,” said Miller.
He added, “Rumors must cease. Only substantial information should be shared with an appropriate staff member.”