Highland Park

Highland Park High School adds ‘weapons detection system' to some school doors, entrances

The "weapons detection system" won't be at all Highland Park High School doors or entrances, officials said

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As Highland Park High School students head back to class Wednesday for the 2023-24 school year, a new "weapons detection system" will be in place across the building at certain entrances, officials said.

According to Superintendent Dr. Bruce Law, the board approved implementing a weapons detection system in District 113, which also includes Deerfield High School, last week.

"For arrival on the first day of school, all students will still be required to present their ID upon entering the school as they did last year," a letter sent out Monday from the district read. "They should also be prepared to remove their computers from their backpacks because the weapons detection system will identify a computer as a weapon, requiring the student to be searched and delayed in going to class."

The system is specifically meant to detect "weapons, knives and guns," Law said. However, it will not be present at every school or entrance. Rather, the system will be moved without warning to different locations, officials said.

"Until we learn more, the weapons detection system will not be at every door every day," the letter continued. "It will appear at different doors on different days at both schools so we can learn how to make arrival go more smoothly and assess the impact on school culture."

"For security reasons," the letter continued, "we will not announce in advance which doors will have a weapons detection system at arrival."

Some parent groups are pushing for the system to be in place at all entrances, particularly after 16-year-old Omar Diaz, a Highland Park High School student, was shot and killed late Sunday morning blocks away from campus. According to Law, such a move could have a "very bad impact on climate."

MORE: 16-year-old suspect charged as adult in murder of fellow teenager in Highland Park

"It would make it difficult for students to get to school on time," Law said. "In short, we'd be creating chaos."

In the letter, school officials stressed the importance of school "looking and feeling normal."

"We are working to make the beginning of school as joyful and exciting as it always is," the letter said. "We also know that security is top of mind in our school community and becomes heightened after any incident involving guns. It is an unfortunate sign of our times that the work of schools focuses so much time and attention on security."

According to Law, the weapons detection system will also be in place at Deerfield High School "very soon."

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