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After mass shootings, schools rethink ways to keep students safe in the classroom

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Go into any classroom, and you may find a dry erase board. You know, one of those whiteboards? In this era of school shootings, a company is making whiteboards that may help to shield students and teachers from bullets. We spoke with the founder of a company called Fox2Sierra. His name is Izzy Fried, and they are making this protective teaching aid, which some schools are starting to buy.

IZZY FRIED: The concept was to put something directly into the classroom and into the hands of the kids, the children, to provide them with safety and security, to essentially buy time. If you look at the statistics of active shooters, you know, these events take place pretty quickly. But if I can put a device into a classroom that is innocuous, it hides in plain sight, and I can give 24 square feet of ballistic protection to my kids in their classroom, and they can roll this thing in front of the door or use it to get out of the classroom to safety, I mean, that's one of the only tools out there right now that goes straight to the children.

INSKEEP: And when we say bulletproof, a bullet ricochets off of it, or what happens?

FRIED: No, it literally eats the bullets.

INSKEEP: Is this part of a whole suite of products that a classroom would need, in your estimation, to be reasonably safe?

FRIED: We certainly don't say that our product is the be-all, end-all. You need everything, right? Why stop at one thing? What I like about our product, like I said at the beginning, is that this goes straight to the students. So if the school has a budget - if you're going to spend $1 million on cameras so you can watch the shooter walk around the school, I'd rather put these boards in classrooms.

INSKEEP: Do you have schools buying these whiteboards already?

FRIED: So far, we've put boards in schools and we've put boards in houses of worship through grassroots funding. We've had people donate money, take money out of their pockets, and then our company has met the donations and split them. We delivered a board to a private school in Tennessee, all right? That board was funded - grassroots - from parents in that school. And the school has funds. But this was an untested product. They loved the idea and the concept, and they were hemming and hawing. And the families were like, look, we're not going to wait for the school to decide whether they have the funds in the budget or not. We're going to, you know, pass the hat around. They raised the funds. One parent in particular, who's an active duty detective outside of Nashville, Tenn., he raised the money. We put up half the money, and I drove a board down to Tennessee. And, you know, they're thrilled.

INSKEEP: Can you answer someone who may be listening to our conversation and thinking, this is really a terrible place to be in that we're resorting to whiteboards, that they were to get to this point in our conversation about school security?

FRIED: It is terrible. But we didn't create the problem, right? The problem unfortunately exists. And the question is, what are we going to do about it? This board came to life because I watched Uvalde, all right? I watched law enforcement in the hallway with a ballistic shield while children were being shot and unfortunately died. And I said to myself, I'm like, law enforcement has these ballistic shields. They were not engaging. They did not engage the threat, and children lost their lives. I'm like, if I can give my children the same protection that law enforcement has and I can buy them the time that they need, I can save a life. If I can save one life, it's worth it. If I can save more, I mean, how do you put a price tag on that?

INSKEEP: Izzy Fried of Fox2Sierra Security. Thanks so much.

FRIED: Thank you. Really appreciate it.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRISTEZA'S "BALABARISTAS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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