Parents called for a clear backpack policy, bag searches or metal detectors at Taylor Elementary School after a loaded gun was discovered there Wednesday.
The weapon was found at the Bibb County public school Wednesday after a teacher overheard students talking about a firearm. During a meeting hosted by the district Thursday afternoon, parents asked what actions would be taken to keep something like this from happening in the future. More than 50 people attended.
"I have a personal issue with this because I send my child here thinking he's going to be safe," said Debra Cross, who has a son in second grade at Taylor and a niece and nephew who go there.
The district released a statement Thursday morning saying campus police were able to secure the weapon after being notified by the fourth-grade teacher at 3:10 p.m. Wednesday, about 10 minutes before the school day was ending. No one was hurt in the incident.
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The teacher followed the "school's crisis protocol" and the school's crisis response team took immediate action, said David Gowan, director of safety and security for the district. The students who knew about the gun were isolated from other children and put into separate classrooms.
Two students had touched the gun and three others did not let a teacher or administrator know that the firearm had been brought to school, the release said. The crisis response team discovered a loaded 9mm in a student's jacket in an empty classroom, Gowan said. The team left the weapon in place, and officers secured it when they arrived.
A student brought the gun from home, Gowan said. District Investigator Corey Goble said the student had no intent to use the weapon.
"There's an active investigation going on. With this specific incident, there's going to be school discipline. There will be a criminal track," Gowan said. "The teacher, the school's emergency response team, everybody did what they were supposed to do here."
A message was sent to Taylor parents about the incident on Wednesday evening. Several parents at the meeting asked why it took the district hours to notify them of the situation and said they should have been informed sooner. Gowan said the incident happened right as school was letting out and was being investigated until 6 p.m.
"This child (who brought the gun) had eight whole hours to do whatever he or she wanted to do," said Michael Sinclair, whose son is in first grade at Taylor. "I'm having a real issue. I don't feel confident in Rosa Taylor's safety for our kids."
Gowan said there is not enough time before school to search more than 500 backpacks, but the district will look into a clear backpack policy. He asked that parents look at their kids' bags before they leave home. With multiple exterior doors, metal detectors are not a foolproof solution and can create more opportunities for trouble, Goble said.
"We are asking parents to please talk with their children and let them know how important it is to report an incident on campus when they know about it; it is not tattling, it is ensuring the safety of everyone at their school," the school district statement said. "We also want to ask that parents please lock up their weapons and ensure that children cannot access them under any circumstances."
Cross called the meeting "a waste," saying that she didn't get any answers. She's worried that the district will wait for something tragic to happen before they make changes. She wants to see a clear backpack policy implemented at Taylor Elementary.
Jamie Cassady, assistant superintendent of student affairs, said the superintendent and his senior cabinet members will take comments from the meeting into consideration when deciding how to address the situation.