Bulletproof whiteboards could be lifesavers in schools
Following the Feb. 14 deaths of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Maple Heights businessman Herbert Neides believes his Wonderboard could provide some protection – or even save lives – in the event of another school shooting.
Neides, a Gates Mills resident, is president of both Clifton Steel and Safe Place Solutions. The latter produces the Wonderboard, a bulletproof whiteboard that can roll in front of a door and lock in place. That functionality could provide students attempting to hide or escape an attack valuable time to do so, Neides said.
The Wonderboard is available in various sizes, the most common costing $1,500 and weighing about 460 pounds. Clifton Steel designed the Wonderboard in 2017, and Safe Place Solutions was created shortly thereafter to showcase its suite of products.
Now, the company is developing a program to donate Wonderboards to area schools, said Neides, adding that in the meantime, Safe Place Solutions would deliver any Wonderboard someone purchases and donates to a school.
“There’s millions and millions of guns (in the United States), but no one is talking about armor,” said Neides, a Gates Mills resident who attends Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Beachwood. “(At Clifton Steel), we’re in the military ballistics armor business. Traditionally, we’ve made armor products for all kinds of applications. Now, we’ve developed a product line for armor in public spaces.”
In Parkland, 17 people were killed when a former student opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle on students and teachers exiting the building. While Neides won’t claim the Wonderboard could have prevented such a tragedy, he said it would offer protection from bullets like those used in the Parkland shooting.
His main challenge has been spreading the word about this type of product to places like schools and banks, he said.
“We want people to know this type of protection exists,” Neides said. “No one knows how to approach a market with it; something that hasn’t been brought before.”
He said the Wonderboard is an easier solution than simply making the doors of school classrooms bulletproof. While it’s possible to make the armor into a door, there are regulatory issues and building codes that can make that costly and difficult for schools, not to mention challenges with the locking mechanism and the sheer weight of the armor.
“(The Wonderboard) doesn’t require building permits, it doesn’t require construction,” he said.
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