Last summer, the Utica City School District installed a $4 million weapons detection system in its 10 elementary schools, two junior highs and Proctor High School only for the system to fail to detect a knife used in an attack months later, and leaving school leaders to be at odds over what was known about the system and when.

An investigation by the district determined a 17-year-old student passed through the new taxpayer-funded Evolv security system in October with a hunting-style knife without it going off. When interim Superintendent Brian Nolan contacted Evolv, the company said it was a known deficiency.

"They told me then that they were very clear when they made their presentation to the school district that the system does not detect knives,” Nolan said.

Since then, Nolan says there’s been disagreement among school leadership about the information they received from Evolv officials about what the system can and cannot detect.

When asked if the system that the Utica district bought detects knives, the company responded:

“Our systems are designed to detect many types of weapons and components of weapons, but as security professionals know, there is no perfect solution that will stop 100% of threats, including ours, which is why security must include a layered approach that involves people, process, with the integration of various technologies to best mitigate risk. We do not discuss the specific capabilities of our systems with the public. Similar to TSA regulations, it is well known in the security industry that providing the public with sensitive security information is irresponsible and puts people at a greater risk. Evolv communicates all aspects of our technology with the trusted security professionals at our customers, partners and prospects, as well as our outside advisors.”

That presents a problem, Nolan says.

“The easily accessible weapon for a high school student is a knife or a can of pepper spray," Nolan said. “We need to be able to have a weapons systems that detects those.”

Nolan says, after the incident in October, the district determined the Evolv system at the high school needed to be replaced with a metal-detecting walk-throughs and x-ray bag scanners. The total cost to make that change was about $200,000.

Nolan says the new security system is similar to going through airport security.

“It took us maybe a week or two to get everybody familiar with the process and it seems to be going very well,” Nolan said. “I think that will help us make an evaluation if the board wants to look at the middle schools.”

The Evolv systems are still being used at the elementary and middle schools in the district.

Nolan stepped in as interim superintendent last October when the school board placed long-time Superintendent Bruce Karam on paid leave. The district has not said why Karam was placed on leave.