Less than a year after administrators decided against it, Evanston Township High School is once again considering installing some type of weapons detection system, Superintendent Marcus Campbell said at a board meeting Monday night.

Last week, at an all-staff meeting, Campbell and Evanston Police Chief Schenita Stewart spoke about violence prevention and public safety.

ETHS Superintendent Marcus Campbell, pictured here greeting students on the first day of school this fall, said he’s once again considering the idea of a weapons detection system for the school. Credit: Richard Cahan

During that meeting, Campbell said he and school leaders were exploring different options for additional deterrents like weapons detectors, though he added he is hoping to avoid regular metal detectors or airport-style systems that could create long lines entering school in the morning.

The conversation around weapons detection and violence prevention resurfaced last month after a school resource officer found a loaded handgun in a student’s waistband. The student was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

In December 2021, ETHS went into lockdown for several hours after two students were caught with loaded handguns in their backpacks.

“School safety continues to be on our minds every day. Recognizing that a safe Evanston is a safe ETHS, we are working to strengthen our collective actions and collective response,” the school stated in an online announcement on Thursday, Dec. 8. “How ETHS responds represents our strength and our willingness to examine and address the reasons why a student may not feel safe in their community.”

Police vehicles block off traffic to ETHS during a gun threat lockdown in December 2021. Credit: Adina Keeling

Board members, administrators and teachers alike all stressed that public safety cannot and does not only rest on the shoulders of the local school districts in Evanston, though.

In addition to bringing Chief Stewart to the staff meeting last week, Campbell also said he recently met with City Manager Luke Stowe about safety and violence prevention.

ETHS Teachers’ Council President Rick Cardis, a history teacher, said the teachers’ union does not have any official stance on weapons detection or metal detectors. He said he hoped to see more investment from the entire community to provide the support that young people need in order to feel safe.

“It’s unfair to put community problems that require a whole community response on ETHS and D65,” Cardis told the RoundTable in a text message. “Technology may be appropriate but it won’t do anything to address root issues, which is where we should really be focusing our energy and attention.”

Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

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  1. A remarkable series of articles provided by the Roundtable! The link to the Evanstonian newspaper at ETHS reveals both in depth reporting by students and truly extraordinary writing! I am so impressed by this, but sad that we as a community, state and nation can’t seem to figure out how the 1791 writers of our Bill of Rights could possibly have imagined that weapons of war would, nearly 300 years later, be allowed in so many non-militia’s hands, based on the ‘right’ in their document.

  2. I’ve thought we should have metal detectors at ETHS sinve my son was confronted by a student with a gun in PE class in the early 2000s. It’s way past time!