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After Fatal Shooting Outside School, District 287 Superintendent Supports Safety Recommendations, Including Metal Detectors

RICHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) -- The superintendent of a district that endured a fatal shooting outside one of its schools earlier this year says she supports board-recommended safety changes, including metal detectors.

Fifteen-year-old Jahmari Rice was shot and killed outside of South Education Center in February. Two other students were injured in the shooting, one critically.

Intermediate District 287, which includes the Richfield school, convened a Safety Response Team following the shooting. At a school board meeting last week, members discussed the team's findings and recommendations, then passed them along to Superintendent Sandy Lewandowski for final approval.

The Safety Response Team recommended improvements in five areas:

- Staff training
- Physical layers of protection, including metal detectors
- Mental health layers of protection
- Systemic and social change
- Regular communication of safety

The team recommended installing metal detectors at on entrance at each of the district's four education centers. Lewandowski said the detectors will be installed and "studied multiple times" over the next two years.

Other safety recommendations included security cameras, crisis, mental health and trauma training for staff and safety updates through newsletters and other communication channels. The team also recommended "District 287 leaders and staff should advocate for systemic and social change."

Lewandowski said she fully supports the recommendations. She did note that "metal detectors are not the panacea for school safety" and that "over the past 15 years, the use of metal detectors in District 287 resulted in inequalities in who was asked to be screened and, ultimately, racial profiling."

"The physical security of buildings is just one layer of safety, and we need many layers of safety working in tandem to optimize our safety efforts," she said.

The Safety Response Team surveyed students, families and staff to put together its recommendations. You can read more about the team's findings and recommendations on the district website.

Rice had transferred to South Education Center shortly before the shooting. Investigators say there was an argument, and they believe that's when 19-year-old Alfredo Rosario Solis and 18-year-old Fernando Valdez Alvarez started shooting.

Both men are facing charges of murder and attempted murder.

Lewandowski is retiring this year. Her replacement, Marcy Doud, will begin in July.

District 287 provides specialized services for students throughout the metro.

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