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School district, sheriff’s office and city police deserve praise

CHAD HOBBS

Messenger Staff


Last Wednesday started much like any other day. Parents dropped off or sent their children via bus or car to Stuart Pepper Middle School and Meade County High School. By the end of the day, however, it had turned into anything but just another day. Parents flooded the middle school, local police were stationed at the school, and school shooting threats dominated conversations and social media.

The first incident revolved around the school district being notified that a high schooler had made a threat against a middle schooler on social media. The Meade County School District (MCSD), the Meade County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), and the Brandenburg Police Department (BPD) immediately sprang into action. According to sources close to the case, the high schooler who made the threat was not in school that day but was at home. While the Sheriff’s Office responded to the home and neutralized the threat, Brandenburg Police responded to the middle school, securing the parking lot while a police presence was also inside the school.

The MCSD, the MCSO and the BPD treated the threat as real, and their quick, decisive and unified efforts prevented any child from ever being at risk that day. Unfortunately, the actions of many parents would have caused risk had there been a threat upon the middle school. I understand the fear considering the current climate, especially after the recent school shooting in Michigan. A mob of panic is the worst thing that could happen in such a situation, however, and that is exactly what happened last Wednesday.

A misinformed call or two from children began to be made to parents, and the next thing you know, someone posted on social media that there was a school shooting taking place at SPMS, triggering a stampede. The whole bus lot was full of vehicles and a line of parents were backed up through the lobby, out the door and around the side of the building right after lunch.

Thankfully, it was misinformation that led to this, but what if it had been the real thing? How would the people trained to handle such a situation even get on scene with parents’ cars in the way? How many more targets would have been presented with so many parents flooding the scene? How much more danger would the children be in with parents holding the locked front doors of the school open so they could wait in line to take their children, preventing school personnel from being able to properly vet those wishing for access to the school as they normally do? What better protection could parents offer in such a situation than the well-trained deputies and officers with our local law enforcement agencies?

Some parents were upset that the school did not contact them sooner. As a parent of a child, I am thankful that the school put contacting law enforcement and neutralizing the possible threat before wasting valuable time to notify me of the possible threat. At that moment, they were the only ones in a position to protect my child, and they did an exemplary job.

Later that same day they would receive another threat, this time at the high school. The school district determined the threat to be on the high school and only the high school, and as such, they moved classes to virtual learning for MCHS on Thursday. Not satisfied that they were far along enough in the investigation with local law enforcement’s invaluable assistance, they kept MCHS in a virtual learning day again on Friday. Later that day, it was announced that two students had been arrested.

Some parents were upset that just the high school was canceled for in-school instruction Thursday and Friday. They were upset that their children, especially at SPMS and the primary and elementary school were put at risk by attending school.

It should be noted that Superintendent Mark Martin has children of his own in those schools that were left open. MCHS principal Jannette Schmidt has children in school. Many others involved have children and grandchildren in the schools as well. If there’s one thing I can definitively say from my many interactions with Superintendent Martin and a lifetime of knowing Principal Schmidt, it is that they have kids, they love kids, and they would never for a second put any child at risk. So, I have complete faith that when they said that high school needed to be closed down for a couple days, it was for good reason, and when they said the other schools were safe to be open that they were sure it was completely safe to do so.

From where I sit, we all owe Superintendent Martin, Sheriff Wimpee, Chief Haag, School Resource Officer Scotty Singleton, and all the other staff, deputies and officers involved a great deal of gratitude for not only the way they all came together last week and worked side by side to keep our children safe but also, for the way they make our children’s safety their top priority all of the time.