Security increased at East Bay middle school

December 1, 2008 3:51:40 PM PST
Security was tight Monday and it will be even tighter Tuesday at an East Bay Middle School where a gun went off last week.

Monday morning security officers searched through students' bags and backpacks by hand for weapons. On Tuesday school staff will start using wands to scan students for weapons before they go into class.

Students were nonchalant Monday while they were asked to open their backpacks for security officers to look through.

But, the process made some parents feel a little uneasy. Even though school administrators want parents to see the additional security measures and feel better, it actually made some feel sad.

"I think it's good for safety reasons but bad for the children," said parent Jackie Patterson. Herman Brown went to Cole Middle School and now teaches there. He never thought there would be a day when security officers searched through kids' backpacks.

"I never would've, ever would've imagined it. But here we are. So, we deal with the situation and we go forward," he said.

This is what parents asked for after a 13-year old boy brought a gun to school.

"What we heard from parents and students at the community meeting is that they would like to at least try doing backpack searches, wanding? And, we said that we would try it for at least 30 days," said Laura Mauran with the Oakland Unified School District.

Even if it makes logical sense, it's still tough for students and parents to accept.

"Well I don't want it to get into an overkill situation, security... I mean we still have a level of trust in our kids," said another parent Wilfred Perry.

The kid who had the gun is now in custody. Police haven't said how he got the gun. But, it went off in Herman Brown's classroom. No one was hurt. The bullet hit the classroom's radiator.

Now parents and teachers are trying to figure out how to keep kids safe while also protecting their innocence. "It doesn't reflect the culture that exists here at Cole Middle School. Again, I'll say that these are the greatest kids I've ever taught after teaching for 33 years," said Brown.

They're still trying to come up with ways to keep this school safe. Another idea is to create an anonymous way for kids to report a problem on campus, such as a gun at school.

At 4 p.m. Monday parents and school staff will meet again to continue talking about possible ideas. The school will also continue trying out increased security for 30 days.


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