Middle school students, parents bring school safety concerns to Wake School Board

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) - Several parents and students called for a variety of changes aimed at improving security in Wake County schools Tuesday, following the shooting at a high school in Florida last month.

Students from Martin Gifted and Talented Magnet Middle School told the school board they plan to walk out of class next Wednesday along with students at schools across the country.

"A lot of our politicians' solutions to the violence that we're seeing today is inadequate," said Anna Hines.

Ella Burge-Walz, a sixth grader, told the school board about an announcement her principal made before a fire drill to tell students it was not a shooting.

"This can't be happening. We don't need to be worrying about getting shot up," she said.

Nancy Haywood, a parent, told the board about a fundraising effort underway to buy devices to install on doors throughout the district that would allow people to lock them from the inside during an emergency.

She used to live near Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed.

"If it can happen there, it's literally going to happen anywhere. And, I think that this time parents are just frustrated. They're tired of seeing our children murdered," Haywood said.

Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary at the end of 2012, Wake County schools formed a task force and took several steps aimed at improving safety. Those included installing more cameras, having a buzzed-entry system at schools and providing more training on how to handle emergencies.

"We're re-looking at all of our schools. So we have older schools. We have new schools that have been online since then, and so those logistical steps are taking place at all of our schools," said school board chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler.

Since the shooting in Florida, Wake County schools haven't outlined any specific new initiatives related to security.

Johnson-Hostler and interim superintendent Dr. Del Burns sent a message to the community last week outlining what's already been done and encouraging parents to talk with their kids.

"But our best security tool can be measured in the strength of the relationships among students, staff and families," they wrote. "Security thrives in an open, trusting environment. We have encouraged our principals to have the kinds of conversations that foster this trust with you and with your children. We encourage you to continue those conversations at home."

In addition to taking part in the walkout next week, students at Martin Middle School plan to deliver a petition to state lawmakers calling for gun reform and additional funding for school psychologists, counselors, social workers and teachers.

The petition reads, "We are watching your actions on this issue, and we will remember what actions you take, or lack of actions you take. And remember, we will be voting soon."


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