Swansea, SC (Paul Kirby) – Lexington County School District Four (Gaston/Swansea) says that they will adjust their policy on communications after a pistol was found in a district school at the end of September. Some parents became upset that the pistol was found, but that fact wasn’t shared with all of the school’s parents. Most parents said they learned about the incident from the media six days later.
Ms. Doris Simmons, the board’s chairperson, started the portion of the meeting allotted for talking about that subject, by reading a prepared statement from the school district. In that statement, she said that the district planned to change their policy on communicating with parents regarding matters of importance in the future.
District representative Lisa Ingram said later that the district always reviews, and if necessary tweaks, their policies and procedures following such a serious issue. She said that since this was a policy and procedural matter, it could be done quickly. In future instances, if a gun or some other dangerous weapon is discovered at one of the district’s schools, the administration would use their communications systems to notify parents after law enforcement has been notified and the situation has been made safe.
Sam Hendley, a parent who said she is the parent or guardian of seven, most of whom attend district four schools, just wants to be informed so that she can have open and frank discussions with her children about such matters. She said during the meeting that if her child had brought up the fact that a firearm had been located at the school prior to her finding out through the media, she would have assured the child that she was wrong. “I would have said that can’t be right because I would have heard from the school district,” Hendley remarked. “I don’t think we needed to immediately know, because all of the parents would swarm the school to get their children, and that could cause chaos; but, once the situation is safe and the gun has been taken from the child and has been taken care of, we need to know.”
Other parents that attended the meeting echoed the same sentiment. Several others had signed up to speak, but after the first few made their point, others said they felt as if the issue had been covered, and they waived their opportunity to speak.
The pistol was located on the 29th in a child’s book bag. As it turned out, that child didn’t bring the .380 caliber gun to school. Another boy admitted to bringing the pistol which belonged to his mother. He slipped it into the bag of the other child in the hallway when he wasn’t looking. That child didn’t know the gun was in his bag and was allowed to leave the school without being disciplined or charged.
The school’s administration heard about the weapon being on the grounds after the boy confessed, bragged about it, and showed it to fellow students. State laws prevent the district from releasing that child’s name or revealing what punishment he has received. District policy says that punishment can include expulsion from attending school in such an instance.