A Minnesota school district where two students were killed in a 2003 shooting unveiled a new device yesterday aimed at adding a last-ditch layer of safety for teachers and students: bulletproof whiteboards. The Rocori School District has acquired nearly 200 of the whiteboards, made of a material touted by its manufacturer as stronger than that in police-issue bulletproof vests. The 18-by-20-inch whiteboards can be used by teachers for instruction and used as a shield in an emergency. The manufacturer, Maryland-based Hardwire LLC, has been working on armor protection devices for military vehicles and personnel for years and turned its attention to school security after the Sandy Hook school shootings.
Police Chief Phil Jones demonstrated the whiteboards in a school gym by leveling a karate kick at one, whacking it with a police baton, and stabbing it with a knife—all with no apparent effect. Jones didn't fire his gun at the whiteboard, saying it would have been unsafe and inappropriate at the school. But he said he'd tested it earlier by firing several rounds at it. "We put this board to the test, and quite frankly, that was the day I became a believer," he said. Company officials said the whiteboards are already in schools in North Dakota and Maryland, and are being rolled out in Pennsylvania and California. (Read more Minnesota stories.)