NC parents cite safety concerns
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 1:00 AM
Parents and others have expressed outrage they weren't notified that a juvenile was arrested for, among other things, having a gun on the campus of Neshoba Central High School two weeks ago.
Kellie Lynn Ainsworth, a grandmother of two Neshoba Central students, was among those voicing concerns that parents were not notified over the school alert system about the altercation and the juvenile fleeing the campus on foot and learned of the news through media reports.
Many cited safety concerns in the wake of the gun being brought onto campus and questioned why the school was not placed on lockdown after the altercation in the gym.
"It hit me when I saw it," Ainsworth said. "I would like to get alerts on any incidents. Then I could choose whether or not to send them to school the next day."
Because of the incident, Ainsworth said she is considering removing her grandchildren from the school district.
"I think there's an increased danger," she said.
In September 2011, a 16-year-old student was charged with possession of a firearm on the Neshoba Central campus after he allegedly brandished a .22-caliber pistol after classes ended.
Then Superintendent of Education George Shaw said no threats were made and called it a possible "show and tell" situation.
Parent Priscilla Malone said Monday that she worries about the lack of security on campus.
While the county school district has three certified and armed officers on campus daily, Moore cited a need for a permanent gate guard and others.
"They should have someone walking the school," she said. "No matter where you are [on campus] there should be the possibility you run into a security guard."
The presence of a gun on campus by the juvenile also worried Moore.
"The kids are not safe," she said. "This could have been another Pearl High School killing."
Moore said her daughter, who was near the altercation when it occurred, was scared not only for herself but for friends and others.
Moore's older daughter, college student Paige Cooper, said better security was needed along with officers armed with better tactics.
"Maybe not with guns but maybe Tasers," she said.
Another concern raised by parents was how the school handled the incident.
Mother Emily Williamson was sitting in her car waiting to drop off her child when she saw officers loading the juvenile into a cruiser.
"There was no lockdown, nothing was shutdown," she said. "He could have run to the elementary school [where her child attends]."
Rumors circulated last week about another handgun incident occurring shortly after the juvenile was arrested.
Sheriff Waddell said no new report of a gun on campus had been reported to his office.
"If there was one, it was not reported," he said.
The juvenile was also charged with possession of ammunition on a school campus, one count of assault on a principal, one count of assault on a school teacher, one count of assault on a minor, resisting arrest by fleeing, providing false information to a police officer, trespassing on the school campus and obstructing operation of a school bus.
No one was seriously injured in the altercation.
Superintendent Dearing and School Board President Jewel Parks did not return phone calls on Tuesday.
Dearing said last week while the juvenile was on campus with a gun, it wasn't for an extended period.
"He drove in, did a U-turn and drove back out," Dearing said.
Dearing said last week that county school administrators were reviewing safety measures, including access to buses and the campus.
Among proposed changes being considered are an assigned stop for each vehicle entering the campus and the possibility of some type of student ID.
New surveillance cameras and other security measures were added in both the city and county school districts in wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, in which 26 were killed.