A Corbin attorney’s unusual efforts to use his firm’s and donors’ money to put metal detectors in one district has expanded to several additional schools in more counties in just a few days.
Shane Romines initially offered — via a Friday Facebook post — $25,000 from his firm Copeland & Romines Law Office to buy metal detectors and other equipment for each of the five schools in the Corbin Independent Schools district. He encouraged others to donate in that district or others.
As of Monday, about $75,000 had been pledged so far for metal detectors; other equipment, such as Tasers or guns for resource officers or school staff; and training in several districts — if school leaders agree, Romines said. Knox County was the first to accept donations for detectors it plans to install.
“I’ve been sickened and I’ve been shocked watching the horror of school shootings and watching the live videos of students crouching in fear,” Romines said in the earlier Facebook video. He was referring to school shootings in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17, and at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky on Jan. 23.
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Since the announcement, the attorney has been contacted by others from Lexington and from both ends of the state who want to raise money for metal detectors or other safety initiatives for schools in their areas, Romines said. He was asked to coordinate with their community leaders.
“The goal would be that everybody throughout the state would be working in their own communities to make sure that their schools are safe,” Romines said.
His firm added to its original pledge with $12,000 more for metal detectors in high schools in Laurel, Whitley, and Knox counties, Romines said.
A private pledge also was received for metal detectors in Bell County and Pineville Independent Schools. About $20,000 in private pledges were targeted for Corbin Independent Schools and at least one $1,000 private pledge was received for Whitley County Schools.
Knox Schools’ spokesman Frank Shelton said the district is getting eight metal detectors for its schools. On Monday, a different donor also contributed two metal detectors for Knox schools, Shelton said.
In explaining his donations for safety initiatives at schools, Romines said he had been blessed financially and he had two children attending Corbin Independent Schools.
“I just want to make sure that between the time we drop them off and pick them up nothing happens to them,” Romines said.
He’s willing to fund firearms if schools are interested. According to state education officials, school board members can have a contract with personnel, including a teacher or other member of a school staff, to allow them to carry firearms on school grounds, under current federal and state law. Sen. John Schickel, R- Union, has introduced Senate Resolution 172 in the General Assembly to urge school boards or board of trustees to allow teachers and other school personnel to carry firearms for their own protection.
Schools approached by Romines are carefully weighing metal detectors. David Cox, superintendent of Corbin Independent Schools, said Monday that the school board would have to decide whether to accept the donation and then, along with Cox and school administration, decide how to use the funds.
Cox met with Kentucky Center for School Safety Executive Director Jon Akers on safety measures Monday, and he wanted to analyze the information he received.
“We all want the same thing,” Cox said. “We all want our schools to be as safe as they can be. We are certainly willing to do anything to further that.”
Akers on Monday said he knew that some schools in Kentucky were using metal detectors wands but he didn’t immediately know of any using the detectors that people walk through.
Following the shooting that killed two and injured several students at Marshall County High School in January, the high school decided to begin using metal detector wands, according to several media reports.
Romines said he’s working with a security company that is willing to provide the metal detectors at a reduced price, about $1,600 each.
“Let’s make sure our children can go to school in peace and in security and let’s make sure they have the tools they need in our school system to protect our most valuable assets,” Romines said.
At least one district and school board — for the 2nd largest district in the state — balked at adding detectors. Fayette County Public Schools officials studied the possibility of installing metal detectors after weapons were found at schools. But they said in October that it wasn’t feasible or desirable to have hundreds of students each day passing through metal detectors.
The benefits could be viewed differently in the state after two mass shootings in schools in three weeks.
“I definitely think it would make the school feel safer,” Corbin Independent 11th-grader Lindsey Siler told Herald-Leader reporting partner WKYT-TV about metal detectors . “I mean we already have a pretty safe environment, and everything is focused on our safety, but I definitely think it would give reassurance to the students.”