Parents raise concerns during school safety forum in Garner

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GARNER, N.C. (WNCN) – Parents asked school administrators and police Monday what more can be done to improve safety and security following the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.

“We’ve gotten to a point where we do have to almost fortify the schools, and it’s unfortunate,” said Michele Lashley, a parent of a student at Garner Magnet High School.

A few dozen people attended a forum Monday night to learn about what steps have been taken and offer suggestions on additional security measures.

“Trying to remain quiet about a situation when they’re voicing that concern through emails or phone calls and cutting that off leads to further issues,” said school principal Carter Hillman.

Some parents raised concerns about the handling of an incident last month in which a student ended up being arrested and charged with bringing a gun to school.

Parents learned of the arrest on Friday, Feb. 16. Hillman said he heard the previous Monday that a student had brought a gun to school but that no one at that point identified who that student was.

After gathering more information, he said police got involved Wednesday. Garner Police Chief Brandon Zuidema said that led to the arrest of a 14-year-old Thursday night.

“It doesn’t give you a lot of confidence in what the protocol is,” said Lashley.

“Well, I think the police were involved as soon as we could, based on the information we got to begin with,” principal Hillman told CBS North Carolina. “Yes, the police should be brought in. But, we also have to make sure that it’s an incident first.”

Garner Magnet High students are currently using the South Garner High School campus until they can return to their regular campus this fall. South Garner has 18 entrances, Chief Zuidema noted. All but the main entrance are locked after students arrive in the morning, Hillman said.

The school has security cameras as well as a school resource officer employed by the Garner Police Department. Chief Zuidema said there are four SRO’s in schools in the town, with plans to increase that total to seven as more schools are constructed.

Some parents asked about installing metal detectors, with some even suggesting launching a fundraising campaign for them. Chief Zuidema noted they could be helpful.

However, he said they would also require having enough people to staff them. They would also have to figure out how to get more than 2,000 children through them in time for school to begin.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:

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