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Polk County to conduct random student searches as part of new safety procedure

District officials say there were 214 weapons and 44 firearms found on school campuses in 2021.

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Polk County school district officials are gearing up for the new school year with some new changes in place. Superintendent Frederick Heid says they will be adding random searches of students for weapons to their list of safety procedures.

The searches will be conducted at middle and high schools with varying times and places of each search. Superintendent Heid says the searches will be and must be completely random. For example, a certain school may pick every fifth student who enters the main entrance of the school that morning. 

“Our intent is that students see this and recognize this as a precaution and not a punitive measure," Heid explained.

The searches will be conducted by school and district staff — not law enforcement. The district says the screenings will involve a metal detector wand. The student's bags and purses are also subject to screening. 

“This is an additional layer of protection that should provide reassurance to our students, staff and parents that our campuses are safer than ever before," Heid said.

Once a random screening is conducted on campus, the school will send out an automated phone call message to let parents know a screening took place. 

“Parents will be informed, each student will be handed a slip of paper they can take home saying they were searched today," Heid explained.

If a student tries to refuse a random screening, district officials say it can lead to disciplinary measures. 

Heid says last year, there were 214 weapons and 44 firearms found on school campuses throughout Polk County. More information about back-to-school updates related to safety can be found here.

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