Amy Averbuch.

Amy Averbuch had a message for the decision makers at Evanston Township High School: install metal detectors to keep students and staff members safe from guns.

Averbuch, the parent of an ETHS junior, told the school board Tuesday night that after two guns were found in the school Dec. 16, many families believe ETHS has a systemic problem, “as it is likely that students are bringing guns into school every day for various reasons.”

She said some parents have been researching weapons detection systems, and specific information would be forwarded to the board about a system which could possibly work well at ETHS, called Evolv.

Averbuch said such a system is affordable, and “provides seamless building entry” with “state of the art technology and ease-of-use by current security staff.”

Averbuch also said that her group, called Evanston for School Safety, is putting together a petition, asking the school board to commit to researching weapons detection systems before its February meeting, and to “include this urgent discussion as an agenda item” at that session.

Averbuch said students who bring guns to the building can be expelled, but that such students deserve compassion and programming to keep them safe and in school.

Averbuch said a dozen parents organized the safety group after the Dec. 16 incident.

She has a master’s degree in criminal justice, and is currently working on a PhD. in community psychology, which includes studying violence-related issues.

Averbuch told Evanston Now her son was both scared and angry when ETHS was on lockdown during the guns-in-school situation.

“He had his arm around a crying teacher,” she said. Her son is 6′ 3″, and told his mom that “if anybody had come into the room” with a weapon “I would have charged him.”

Averbuch said the frightening lockdown represented a “loss of innocence and sense of security” for ETHS students.

District 202 administrators have previously said that, in light Dec. 16, they are looking into the possibility of metal detectors. However, no timetable was given.

Averbuch said ETHS is a great facility with many strengths, but “diluting the urgency of installing a weapons detection system may be the anchor that pulls down the quality of the entire school.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. Dealing with a student who has brought a gun to school is one of the most serious issues we have to deal with in this complex world. I have worked in dangerous schools both with and without metal detectors. And I hope we can avoid them in Evanston.

    Metal detectors change a school, installing them provides for a physical and an emotional barrier to students entering the School building. We may end up installing them in the end but working to build a culture of trust between students and faculty and students and students might be a better way to go.

    I understand the parents concerns, years ago I needed surgery after being assaulted in school. It is impossible to teach, learn and and grow in a school affected by violence. But before we install the hardware, students, parents and staff need to work to help create a culture of trust within the walls of the school. It isn’t easy and it will not take a month but before the hardware, let’s try to work together.

    This is just a single opinion coming from working 25 years in pre-K through college. And oh yes a bachelors in criminal justice.

    1. That’s all very nice, but if Evanston hasn’t established a “culture of trust” after 100 years of existence, detracking efforts, groundbreaking dress code revisions, restorative justice initiatives, mindfulness seminars, affinity group summits, and generally lowering expectations in every possible way, then maybe it’s time to install the metal detectors.

  2. “Please dad, please pick up the phone!” “Dad, where are you?” “Please respond, Dad!” “I love you!” Those are the words our son texted me that day. My phone was off. My heart sinks when I think about that day. Shootings in school are a sad inescapable reality of our current culture. We can debate race. We can debate gun control. We can talk about which degrees we have and what degrees we don’t have. We can talk about how we have failed as a culture that we haven’t taught our children coping skills. None of that will mean anything when some kid walks into that school with an AK-47 and lets it rip on full auto. If you think for a second that, that couldn’t happen at ETHS you’re not only irresponsible—–you’re delusional! Protect the kids and staff! Put the metal detectors in!

  3. Hi, graduate of the school of common sense here. Schools need to be safe spaces where students and teachers don’t need to fear they’re in the presence of loaded guns brought by students into the building. Imagine being one of the kids or teachers who were locked in their classroom for hours while police combed the building to find the guns and those who brought them. Yes we absolutely need metal detectors at the school just like we have at any concert or major sporting event. Safety comes first in my book.

  4. I have a hard time relating to the comment posted “Metal detectors change a school, installing them provides for a physical and an emotional barrier to students entering the School building.” We all go through metal detectors to get on planes; my emotional state would actually be worse if that weren’t the case. Notwithstanding the inconvenience of TSA lines at the airport, the article mentions an available system that’s not too expensive, wouldn’t create significant bottlenecks getting into the building and can be operated with existing security staff. It would be a mistake not to give such a system serious consideration.

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