#schoolsafety | Lathan: Houston ISD to explore addition of metal detectors in wake of Bellaire shooting

Houston ISD officials are exploring the addition of metal detectors at the district’s middle and high schools in response to last week’s fatal on-campus shooting of a student, Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said Tuesday.

In a blog post, Lathan wrote that she will be meeting with students and community leaders to determine whether the district should increase security measures following the shooting of 19-year-old Cesar Cortes at Bellaire High School. Authorities have said they believe a 16-year-old classmate accidentally shot Cortes while showing off a semiautomatic pistol.

“These meetings, along with reconvening safety and security council committees on every campus, will be a catalyst for increased vigilance and preventative measures in our schools,” Lathan said. “Another measure the district is exploring includes assessing middle schools and high schools for metal detectors as a screening measure for entry onto campuses.”

HISD does not regularly employ metal detectors or require clear backpacks at its campuses. Aldine and Spring ISDs are the only two large Houston-area districts that use metal detectors each school day. Cy-Fair ISD, the region’s second-largest district, issued a clear backpack mandate for students following the May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead.

HISD officials have not committed to any district-wide security changes since Cortes’ death, and Lathan’s post contains no such promises. District officials did not implement any significant security upgrades following the Santa Fe mass shooting. At the time, HISD leaders said they were satisfied with their security plans.

Lathan said she plans to meet with community leaders Feb. 7 to discuss school safety. Her blog post does not specify a location or whether the meeting will be open to the public.

About 75 Bellaire students and friends of Cortes called Friday for district officials to hear their concerns and suggestions for improving school safety. Lathan has committed to meeting Bellaire students at an unspecified time.

A 16-year-old boy is charged as a juvenile with manslaughter in Cortes’ death. He remains in custody pending the results of a mental health evaluation. Authorities have not released his name due to his age.


jacob.carpenter@chron.com


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