Durham Public Schools reviewing safety protocols after man accused of walking into school, exposing himself in girls’ bathroom

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Some parents in Durham are still concerned about their children’s safety after police arrested a man for walking into the Durham School of the Arts (DSA) and exposing himself in the girl’s bathroom.

As CBS 17 previously reported, court documents show that 29-year-old Neal Harding walked into the northern entrance of the “middle school” building and into the girl’s bathroom on Oct. 28.

Two 11-year-old girls told police that Harding peeked over their stalls and asked them if they wanted to engage in sexual activity.

One of the girls said Harding grabbed her arm as she tried to leave and that he exposed himself to her.

Court documents showed that Harding was in the school for a total of 20 minutes and that a security officer was at the school when this happened.

Parents CBS 17 spoke with said they still have questions about how Harding got in the bathroom.

“I was very surprised to hear about a person going into the bathroom,” said Karen Reardon, a parent with a child at DSA. “I feel for the kids and the parents of the kids it’s directly affected.”

On Thursday, CBS 17 reached out to Durham Public Schools to find out what they are doing to address this and prevent it from happening again.

DPS would not do an interview, but they told CBS 17 they are continuing to work closely with law enforcement and their administrators to review current safety protocols.

“It was due to our security system and immediate student notification that we were able to work with law enforcement to bring this matter to a close. We will continue to monitor our systems and remain watchful so that we can remain proactive about possible dangers,” the district said in a statement.

In an interview last month, DPS spokesperson Chip Sudderth told CBS 17 they have secured entrances at the main offices of the schools, but that does not mean all the doors are locked all of the time.

“We have some schools where the students move from building to building, where those doors can’t be locked all of the time, but they need to monitored and checked,” Sudderth said last month.

While some parents told CBS 17 off camera they are still concerned, some parents said they think the district is doing what they can.

“If anyone wants to get in the school, they’ll just wait for an opportunity,” Reardon said. “But I feel like the school is handling it appropriately.”

Harding was in court on Thursday on an unrelated assault charge. He remains in jail a bond of more than $1 million.

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