Death threats written on the walls of Columbia Middle School.
A knife-wielding student at Evans High School.
In the past two weeks, some Columbia County schools have produced a flurry of police reports, prompting school officials to take a second look at school safety.
"The fact that kids continue to bring so many knives to school is troubling," school Superintendent Tommy Price said. "Obviously, they've got them for some unknown reason. Everybody knows the rules."
Charles Nagle, the associate superintendent for student and school services, said principals have been asked to "heighten their awareness and upscale supervision."
He said schools plan to increase random searches and the use of metal detectors. But school officials admit they are limited in what they can do.
With about 1,700 students trying to push through Evans High School's doors in the morning, metal detectors at every entrance would be too expensive and impractical, Principal Don Brigdon said.
"We're going to do more random checks where basically we roll the metal detector down to a room at random and make students go through a metal detector where we wand their bags while they are in the rooms," Mr. Brigdon said. "We are going to pick up the pace and do the random checks more often. It's disruptive, but we feel we need to do it."
Mr. Brigdon said teachers, custodians and administrators are routinely posted outside rest rooms and watch parking lots, "but it's been mainly to discourage smokers."
At Columbia Middle School, where two incidents have occurred recently, Principal Donna Anderson said she is starting a public awareness campaign.
"We're doing reminders to the kids to leave the stuff at home," said Dr. Anderson, who added that notices also are going out to parents through newsletters and e-mail.
She urged parents to become more aware of their child's activities and behavior at school and at home.
School officials recently blocked school computer access to several Internet journal sites, also called blogs, where local teens are leaving troubling messages, Dr. Anderson said.
"It will give you the dark side of some of their thought processes," she said. "If parents don't know how to use the computer, then that's a very dangerous thing, especially with some of the sites I've seen."
The students themselves are the schools' front line of defense, Mr. Nagle said.
"We like to think something is working well. We are catching the ones who have got them (knives)," he said. "The kids are catching them and turning them in."
PUPILS IN TROUBLE
Recent events at Columbia County schools that have led to arrests:
Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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