In a recent article, New York City advocates and adversaries continue to ponder the necessity of metal detectors in their schools. The metal detectors have become a security blanket for many educators who would otherwise feel uncomfortable teaching in any other atmosphere which provides that level of security. New York City Public Schools must use a leadership process that empowers teachers to feel safe and control the school culture before attempting to remove metal detectors.

According to the article, Calls mount to remove metal detectors from NYC schools, advocates and adversaries for the removal of metal detectors in New York City Public Schools present valid points on both sides of the spectrum. Advocates believe that the continued placement is unnecessary and discriminatory. Adversaries surmise that the removal of such precautions is a recipe for disaster.

A number of parent groups and advocates believe the metal detectors installed in the city’s most troubled schools are now unneeded because of low crime rates. They also believe that they are discriminatory, since they mainly exist in schools that serve minority neighborhoods. In support of their argument, New York City crime has taken a nose dive over the past two decades. Consistent with this transformation is also a reduction in the number of violent crimes and robberies in schools. For example, assaults dropped 34 percent from 2010-11 to 2014-15, according to police. Critics of detectors say that drop makes them unnecessary. Furthermore, New York City Civil Liberties Union executive director, Donna Lieberman, stated that “Making students have to go through metal detectors to go to school sends a terrible message to students about where they are headed and how they are viewed.”

Other parents and union officials believe that the removal of metal detectors from New York City Public Schools will result in a catastrophe. These parents hold onto the notion that removing metal detectors will leave children unsafe. The president of Teamsters Local 237, Gregory Floyd. supports this notion. According to Floyd, “More than 300 weapons, including knives and BB guns, have been recovered by school safety agents since July. It’s very simple: If the scanners are taken away, then every day will be less safe for the students, faculty and school safety agents inside these schools.”

While both advocates and adversaries for the removal of metal detectors from New York City Public Schools hold valid points, the most effective way to determine the outcome is to pilot the removal metal detectors while empowering teachers to feel safe in the schools.

What process must New York City Schools use to effectively remove metal detectors?

The first step in the process is to pilot an initiative that focuses on metal detector removal at each level within the school district. This will also require that leaders within the school have the ability to build a strong positive community by using Systems thinking. Systems thinking is a process that includes personal mastery, mental models, shared visions, and team building. However, Systems Thinking transformation attempts can result in organizational defensive routines. Organizational defensive routines are detrimental to the existence of organizations such as schools. One response to organizational defensive routines is to establish pilot groups. Without the usage of a pilot group, the new idea of removing metal detectors in New York City Public Schools is doomed to fail.

What other program will lead to successfully removing metal detectors from New York City Public Schools?

The need for metal detectors is associated with ensuring that teachers feel safe. Many of the conflicts in the schools are between teachers and students. Since many of those conflicts are between teachers and students of different races, it is necessary to promote positive racial teacher-student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).

When promoting positive racial teacher-student classroom relationships, leaders must consider teacher and student cultural differences as well as differences in their verbal and nonverbal behavior. Teachers and students from different cultural backgrounds have historical and cultural perspectives that can create classroom clashes which result in nonproductive classroom environments where students’ education suffers and violence in the school continues to permeate. If teachers and students are unable to understand and accept their cultural differences and their verbal and nonverbal behavior, the nonproductive classroom environment becomes a continued obstacle which will necessitate the continued need for metal detectors in New York City Public Schools.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D. PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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