Students and parents alike are incensed by the random search that took place on Tuesday morning at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School.
According to one student, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, school safety officers began to shout at students as they entered the school that morning. The student said that the officers told them to remove any electronic devices and metal objects from their clothing and backpacks. They were then instructed to walk in a line and swipe their ID cards to gain entry to the school. As they walked into the school, school safety officers ran a handheld device along the sides of the students’ bodies. The device, which beeps if any sort of metal is detected, was used to determine if the students had any objects that are banned by the school.
The student said that knives were found on some males during the search. However, she also said that some students were forcibly searched. “The school safety officers shoved some people against the wall and searched them when they didn’t beep,” she said. “When they [school safety officers] were throwing people’s stuff into the box, they broke one girl’s sidekick.” The student also said that she feels some of the females were searched inappropriately. She also reported that the assistant principal and two deans were present during the search, but they did not intervene.
Principal Darryl Rock, who was not in the building when the search took place, said that the random search had nothing to do with Banneker. “Random searches are mandated by the mayor’s office,” he said. An official with the Department of Education’s Office of School Intervention and Development said that random searches are regulated by the chancellor’s office and requested by principals and school safety officers. “School safety officers request random searches depending on a particular situation at a school,” she said.
The Banneker student noted that the random search happened shortly after a robbery occurred in the school. She said that a student was robbed but is unsure about what was stolen. She also said that the robber, a fellow Banneker student, was suspended by Rock. Additionally, she reported that Rock sent police officers to the robber’s house because he threatened the principal’s life. This incident, the student said, caused Rock to announce on the PA system that the homecoming dance was cancelled. Rock said that the random search is not related to the dance’s cancellation and denies that the robbery ever took place.
The student’s mother is disturbed about the search. “I am not upset that the search took place,” she said. “I am more concerned about the manner in which it was handled.” She, like her daughter, is suspicious that the search took place soon after the robbery.
On Thursday, November 29, there will be a meeting between the school safety officers and the parents to discuss the search. The meeting will take place at Banneker from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.