As students start to organize their supplies for the new school year, their parents have one harrowing concern on their minds: Are their children going to be safe?
On May 17, parents learned that a student at Warhill High School had been arrested after bringing a loaded handgun to school.
A week later, on May 29, there was another scare where a student reported they had seen another student with a gun, said Christie Scott, internal communications officer with Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools.
However, Scott said the report was quickly investigated and it was determined there was no weapon. Jeffry Carroll, the school’s principal, sent a message to families, assuring them that students were safe and going to class as usual.
As a result, Dan Clark, a parent of a student at the school, decided it was time to take action and raise awareness for more safety measures.
Following the incident in May, Clark started a petition to implement metal detectors at the school. However, he said he doesn’t see this likely for the next school year because it’s too late for budget considerations.
But that didn’t stop him from continuing to bring safety to the forefront of the administration’s mind.
Since first starting the petition in May, it has garnered 175 signatures. Scott said the petition has not yet been brought to administration.
“At this time, WJCC Schools does not plan to introduce metal detectors in our buildings,” Scott said. “We do, however, make use of metal detectors at some events such as football games.”
If the petition continues to gain more signatures, Clark said he will present it to the school board.
In the meantime, Clark said he has spoken with Brian Weaver, WJCC’s supervisor for building security and services, about other safety measures the schools can take. Scott said this meeting was so Weaver could share some of Clark’s safety ideas with the WJCC School Safety Committee.
Clark said he was told that one suggestion, changing the focal point of some of the cameras to watch the doors, would be implemented immediately.
With all of the security concerns in schools across the nation, parents still want to be sure their children are spending their days somewhere safe.
Scott said WJCC schools are continuously enhancing security for students, staff and visitors. Throughout the year, schools hold multiple state-required drills and conduct ongoing training with first responders, she said.
“These measures keep students and staff prepared and informed of division and building safety procedures and resources,” Scott said.
Scott added that specifics on certain safety are not public knowledge in order to prevent compromising their effectiveness.
But Clark isn’t going to stop pushing for greater safety awareness and actions. He said he plans on attending meetings this year to see what the school board’s stance on certain safety issues.
The next school board meeting will be on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Stryker Center.