A Riverside County lawmaker’s proposal for a pilot project to install metal detectors in schools countywide to bolster security, using a mix of private and public funds, cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday.
Sen. Jeff Stone, R-La Quinta, said he conceived SB 1443 after speaking with parents who expressed a desire “to ensure that when their kids go to school … they are going into an environment where there are no weapons.”
“If this program saves one life, I think it has accomplished its goal,” Stone said.
The bill received majority support from members of the Senate Education Committee and is now bound for the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it will be further vetted.
Under the proposal, the Riverside County Office of Education would be eligible to receive a $100,000 grant from the state general fund — if the agency raised nine times that sum in private donations specifically dedicated to purchasing and installing metal detectors in some or all K-12 schools in the county.
Stone did not say how the $900,000 in private donations may be raised in the six-year timeline proposed under SB 1443.
“Keeping our kids safe in school is paramount,” the senator said in an introduction to the bill. “One such way would be to install metal detectors in schools.”
The legislation states that the California Department of Education would be tasked with monitoring how the pilot project is implemented, and whether it might warrant expansion to all school districts throughout the state.
According to a nonpartisan analysis by Senate Education Committee staff, school districts currently have the discretion to purchase metal detectors and other security gear, but there is no designated grant program in place.
Analysts noted that the Los Angeles Unified School District utilizes metal screening at some of its facilities.