Noblesville schools apply for metal detector wands in wake of school shooting

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NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – Noblesville schools announced it applied to receive metal detector wands from the state as it works to increase security in the wake of May's shooting at Noblesville West Middle School.

It left student Ella Whistler and teacher Jason Seaman injured after a student opened fire inside a classroom. The school district announced a series of security enhancements it was working on afterwards.

"That day's really hard and that's a day that we will never forget, our entire community will never forget," Tara Buschong said.

She said she has four children in the school district, including two at NWMS, one of who was across the hall during the shooting. Now she's a member of the group Noblesville Stands Together, working to make sure what happened at Noblesville doesn't happen again.

"I don't think we can get too safe, we're talking about children and every child deserves to walk into that school and feel loved, feel safe and like they matter," Buschong said.

State and local leaders are also focused on improving safety. Earlier this week, Governor Holcomb announced a program providing metal detector wands to schools at no cost, one per every 250 students. Recommendations from the governor's school safety task force are also due in August.

In an email to parents, Noblesville Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer updated parents on the district's safety enhancements.

"I know we had a tough ending to the school year last year and I'm so proud of how our community came together to support one another through this difficult time," she wrote.

She wrote the district applied for wands and "...they will be used in individual cases where reasonable suspicion exists."

The email also outlined the police department's plans to triple the number of school resource officers. Police say while SRO's are hired and trained, they will devote officers to cover schools and extra-curricular activities as needed. The district said other measures include more surveillance equipment, new visitor and student procedures, more online monitoring tools and more safety training. The district also plans to look into enhanced facility structures and more mental health support.

"First off I want to say how proud I am of how the Noblesville school system handled the event that day and the subsequent week after. Having two kids at that school I saw firsthand the great job they did," parent Jeff Montgomery wrote.

He, like some other parents, said the safety update is a step in the right direction.

"...however, they are all reactionary steps. No ideas are being implemented that will prevent it from happening again. Wands are a great idea, but unless you scan everybody everyday there is still a risk of someone bringing a gun to school. Scanning 'reasonably suspicious kids' isn't enough and from all accounts wouldn't have been enough," he wrote in part.

Another group formed advocating for safety, S.O.S. Noblesville, also weighed in on metal detector wands.

"S.O.S. Noblesville respectfully appreciates Governor Eric Holcomb addressing School Safety, but we are concerned about the message in light of preexisting legislation, Public Law 27, which in partnership with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, has already established minimum standards and approved best practices for a school emergency response system and improved school building safety," the organization wrote in part.

Last month the district provided members of the public opportunities to weigh in during its school board meeting, and plans to offer the public safety forum again on July 18 at Noblesville High School.

"Right now Noblesville's a statistic and we can choose to be a statistic or we can decide to be a champion of change and there's a culture that needs to be changed," Buschong said.

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