Bellaire High School students, reeling from a fatal shooting on campus last week, will get a chance to sound off about their security concerns to Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan, the HISD police chief and trustees today (Jan. 23) — this as Lathan launches new initiatives on school security that could explore the use of metal detectors on secondary school campuses.
According to the district, Dr. Grenita Lathan will hold the closed meeting at 2 p.m. at Bellaire High, with a media availability to follow. A group of Bellaire students had staged a protest outside HISD headquarters as trustees met last week, demanding stronger security and communication from the district leaders.
In a blogpost Wednesday, Lathan said added security measures will continue at the campus. “There will be additional HISD police officers on campus and patrols around the campus and extra administrative personnel to ensure the school is safe and secure,” she wrote.
Toward a wider effort, Lathan said she would be holding a meeting on security matters with “key community leaders,” and “meeting with student representatives from our high schools on a recurring basis moving forward,” as well as “reconvening safety and security council committees on every campus.”
HISD is “exploring” an assessment of the potential use of metal detectors to screen those entering middle and high schools, she also wrote.
A 19-year-old senior and Junior ROTC leader, Cesar Cortes, was shot on Jan. 14 by a 16-year-old schoolmate reportedly showing off a 32-caliber semiautomatic handgun that he had apparently carried on campus all day without being reported. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has said the unnamed juvenile didn’t intend to shoot Cortes, who was pronounced dead at Ben Taub Hospital. The suspect has been charged with manslaughter and remains in custody, where he is being evaluated.
Ogg met with the local chapter of Moms Demand Action Wednesday and said that the suspect — who had not cooperated with investigators after his arrest the night of the shooting — did reveal the location of the gun, which has been recovered. Now, she said, authorities are trying to determine how it came into the suspect’s possession.