Austin-East students to be screened by metal detector wands upon return to in-person class; other security measures added

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A spokesperson with Knox County Schools confirmed Monday that Austin-East Magnet High School students will be screened by metal detector wands upon their return to in-person instruction.

The move comes a week after the officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old Austin-East student after a confrontation with Knoxville Police in a bathroom at the school. Investigators reported the student had been armed.

A letter sent to Austin-East families from Principal Nathan Langlois also outlined the week and what students will see before and when they return to in-person class.

Students who are in-person learners will also be participating in a staggered schedule Wednesday for additional support to help them acclimate back to school, according to Langlois’ letter.

During arrival and dismissal for in-person class starting this week, students will be searched and screened with the metal detector wands by school security. Also, all entrances and exits to the school will be alarmed and personnel will be assigned to appropriate outside locations.

“There will be continued increased security on and outside campus, and the clear backpack policy will remain at this time,” Langlois’ letter stated.

The subject of metal detectors was brought up in a press conference last week with KCS Superintendent Bob Thomas and security chief Gus Paidousis.

Superintendent Thomas said the school system has talked about metal detectors and security chief Paidousis said that they are an option — whether a walk-through option or a handheld one.

“If you have a child every morning go through a metal detector, and then if the metal detector alerts on anything, that child empties their pockets and backpack. While there is some value, it does change the entire complexion of that school day and how that school day starts. We are talking about a lot of different options, metal detectors are a possibility, but there’s a lot of challenges.”

Security Chief Gus Paidousis

Students at Austin-East are scheduled to return to in-person instruction on Thursday, when state testing begins.

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