More Than 90,000 New York City Students Are Searched Before School

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High school students wait to pass through metal detectors at the Washington Irving Campus near Union Square.

Every morning, more than 90,000 New York City public high school students are scanned by metal detectors as they arrive to school. Which schools have scanners is hard to pin down — the Department of Education says it does not share this information for safety reasons.

But the scanners aren't secret. They can be seen in school lobbies. By calling high schools and using data from the New York Civil Liberties Union and Inside Schools, WNYC found that at least 193 New York City public high schools have metal detectors, accounting for about one-third of the city's high school population.

Getting scanned before school every day can mean earlier wakeups, long waits and lots of hassle, and whether it's a part of your morning depends a lot on where you go to school.

Almost two-thirds of high school students in the Bronx go through a metal detector; none go through one on Staten Island. Students in Brooklyn are a little more likely than average to go through scanning, and those in Manhattan and Queens are less likely.

Citywide, almost half of black high school students are scanned every day — compared to about 14 percent of white students. We also found that 43% of English Language Learner high school students are scanned every day.

The NYPD did not respond to requests for data on items confiscated in schools. But according to reports in the New York Post and the Daily Mail, 712 weapons were found by metal detectors in schools during the 2013-2014 school year. If every high school student currently at a scanning school was scanned each school day, that would amount to 16,400,520 scans over a school year — or one dangerous item found for every 23,000 scans.

Metal detector data for schools categorized by the NYC Department of Education as a "High school" was collected manually by WNYC as well as from Inside Schools and a 2014 survey by the New York Civil Liberties Union. Demographic and supplementary data about each high school from the NYC Department of Education. Rahmah Pauzi, Janaki Chadha, and Kathryn Tam helped with calling schools for this dataset.