Fulton County public school students, teachers and other personnel have another commonly used item which is now subject to a security search and examination by school security personnel: school-provided computers.
“This minor revision has come only as a result of our policy review cycle, as the school district has implemented a comprehensive rollout of technology devices to staff and students, and our current operating guidelines now list school computers as a technology resource which may be searched,” David Goldie, the district’s coordinator of government affairs and policy, said.
Goldie explained the expanded search guidelines to members of the Fulton County Board of Education at Thursday night's meeting at the South Learning Center in Union City.
Due to this being an expansion of existing school operating guidelines, the policy is now in effect and does not need to be voted on by the school board, said Cierra Boyd, a district spokeswoman.
Under the current policy, handbags, backpacks, briefcases and similar items are subject to searches for anyone entering a school or district facility. If a metal detector finds a suspicious item on one’s person, an individual is subject to a more extensive search.
Fulton student and teacher items are already subject to a security search at any time, and the district has expanded its field of such devices to include computers, which are officially deemed by the district, Goldie said. Those computer searches could also include an examination of one's files, if warranted.
Goldie said computers and other devices such as iPads were added to the list of items that can be searched as part of an “increased deployment of technology.”
In addition, computers that have been provided by the school to school personnel and use school-related email addresses were purchased with taxpayer funding, remain district property and, as such, whatever is on those school-provided computers may be examined by school officials, Boyd said.
An accompanying summary to this agenda item stated the district is dedicated to providing students and staff with a safe environment, free from weapons, drugs and other items which are dangerous or are a violation of school policy or the law.
To this end, school officials are authorized to conduct reasonable searches of students, staff and visitors, pursuant to applicable law, the summary stated.
Boyd said this step is part of the district’s revision cycle, and “it is important our school system continue to align itself with current guidelines and practices.”
According to additional information provided to the board regarding school security, the district’s superintendent, chief of police and/or school administrator may authorize periodic or daily metal detector screenings to deter and prevent dangerous items from being brought into any school building or into a school-sponsored activity.
In addition, all school properties using metal detectors must post signage outside the entrance of a building or other school property to let individuals know they may be subject to a search.
In addition, if a metal detector exists and a search is being conducted, students, staff and visitors will be asked to surrender their belongings upon entry.
All property removed from individuals as the result of a search will be returned to that individual at the conclusion of the search.