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Columbia Public Schools is aware of legal action against Evolv


Columbia Public Schools is considering using an AI security technology called Evolv. However, a law firm is trying to file a lawsuit against the company for allegedly misleading shareholders.

The school district demonstrated the weapons-detection system Tuesday at Hickman High School.

A national law firm called The Schall Group is working on a class-action lawsuit against Evolv for allegedly falsifying the system's effectiveness.

There are concerns the technology cannot effectively detect large knives. Sensitivity can be adjusted to also scan for weapons such as knives, but there will be more false alarms with higher sensitivity, a representative from Evolv told ABC 17 News on Tuesday.

ABC 17 News reached out to Evolv on Wednesday.

Evolv is meant to detect weapons on people as they enter a building. It resembles a metal detector but uses AI programming to detect the density and size of materials that make up the slide or barrel of a gun.

The lawsuit alleges Evolv failed to detect large knives 42% of the time.

"Based on this news, shares of Evolv fell by almost 8.2% over the next several trading sessions," The Schall Group said in a news release.

Evolv is aware of the legal action and denies the claims.

"There are certain law firms that have been publicly advertising for shareholders interested in being part of a potential class action suit. This is a common practice for these types of firms. We are not aware of any lawsuits that have been filed by such firms or shareholders against the company," the FAQ section of Evolv's website states.

As for the claims the company is falsifying results, Evolv's website reads: "Contrary to misleading claims, Evolv did not manipulate results of a third-party report to make the results appear better."

Columbia Public Schools was aware of the legal action before it held the demonstration at Hickman. District spokesperson Michelle Baumstrack said CPS is considering multiple possibilities, some with similar, but different, concepts.

"Additionally, it is important to remember that any system implemented would be just one of many layers of protection," Baumstark said. "It does not solve all safety and security concerns. Having multiple layers of protection is the best approach when considering school safety."

Baumstark would not say whether the legal claims will impact the district's decision on whether to implement Evolv.

ABC 17 News reached out to all Columbia Board of Education members about the lawsuit.

Systems made by Evolv are already used in places like casinos and stadiums, including in Missouri. The St. Louis City Soccer Club uses an Evolv system to scan fans entering their 22,500-seat stadium. According to the company's website, Evolv systems are used nationwide by teams including the Cleveland Browns, the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros.

Hickman sophomore Karli Jones, of CPS Students for Change, supports the implementation of Evolv or similar systems but hopes the school district will not only use it as a deterrent.

"They're just not going to be as effective if they're not implemented the right way," Jones said. "And if you have the opportunity to implement a weapon detection system and you have your community on board, it would really be a misstep at this point to not use it as a detector."

Article Topic Follows: School safety

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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