Eight PGCPS Schools Require Metal Detectors and Clear Backpacks
Dr. Millard House II, the newest PGCPS superintendent, made a major announcement on July 11: all PGCPS high schools and eight middle schools will now have mandatory metal detectors and compulsory clear backpacks. With 10 gun arrests last year alone, and an increased number of mass shootings across the country, school safety is deemed ever-important by students, parents and school officials alike.
“There is no tolerance for weapons inside our schools or on our grounds or on our school buses,” said Dr. House. “Students don’t necessarily bring firearms to school to do harm. They’re bringing firearms, in many cases, to protect themselves to and from school.”
The open gate system they plan to use will screen for weapons, while not being activated by innocent items such as cell phones and phone chargers. The metal detector process will operate very similarly to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport metal detectors, as they are both operated by the same company.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) said she respects the incoming superintendent’s decision to make these major changes and stands by the goal to keep kids safe.
“I think we are all on one accord that we want our students, staff and families to be safe. That’s our number one priority,” said Alsoborooks. “And we have seen an unfortunate increase in guns that have been brought to our schools. And it is an unfortunate time where we are in line with many of our jurisdictions in the region, including Alexandria, who have had to make similar decisions regarding these measures to protect our students. But I think that protecting students ought to be the number one goal and making sure that as our kids learn that they are in safe environments, and that’s what we’re going to do is to keep their safety first.”
Jocelyn Route, the newly nominated Prince George’s County Board of Education member and Bladensburg City Councilmember said she agrees with the new policy.
“I think the new clear backpack and metal detector policy implemented by our new CEO Millard House II is a step in the right direction to ensure the safety of all of our PGCPS scholars,” said the newest member of the Board of Education in an interview with the Informer.
Jocelyn Route Appointed to Prince George’s Board of Education
Jocelyn Route, a member of the Bladensburg City Council, was nominated on July 18 by the County Council to serve the remainder of retiring Prince George’s County Board of Education Member Curtis Valentine.
Route, a life member of Sigma Gamma Rho, also has expertise in mental health treatment. She currently serves as a Public Health Advisor for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
She was responsible for establishing the Transition Age Youth Mental Health system of care for the D.C. government and has also opened a transitional housing apartment community for young adults.
“Jocelyn is a proven leader and education advocate, and she will be a wonderful asset to the Prince George’s County Board of Education,” said Prince George’s County Council Chair Tom Dernoga. “I’m thrilled to welcome her.”
“As a former School Board Member, I am so excited for the community to get to know Jocelyn. This is the first new School Board Member appointed by Council in a decade, and I’m confident our parents, students and staff will be impressed by Jocelyn’s fresh ideas and perspective,” said District 8 Council Member Edward Burroughs, who also served on the Board of Education.
Route has a lot of plans to help strengthen the school system.
“We also need to consider implementing trauma informed violence prevention programs to address the social emotional needs of our scholars, equally. Psychological safety is just as important as our scholar’s physical safety. We need to solve the issue of why some of our scholars choose violence to deal with conflict,” Route told the Informer.
“There may be unaddressed mental health needs that our scholars are living with. Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment, also known as SBIRT, is a model that encourages mental health and substance use screenings as a routine preventive service to catch unidentified needs of individuals. This preventative measure would ensure that our scholar’s mental health and substance use needs are being addressed.”