Leaders react to gun being fired at Lucy Addison Middle School

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 6:45 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - We are hearing from city council members and school leaders about the possibility of putting metal detectors in Roanoke City Public Schools.

That’s after a gun was fired inside Lucy Addison Middle School in Roanoke Tuesday.

“I know how cosmetically it looks to have a school with metal detectors and you know, you have to have a logistical setup to do that, but I would prefer to take the time to do that, then to take my time to go to funerals,” said Sherman Lea, Roanoke City Mayor.

“Metal detectors can be a solution, but along with just the presences of them, you have to think about the staffing of those. You have to think about the time involved, when those are active, because if you put them at entrances, they’re going to be active all the time. So you really have to have somebody to staff them all the time and then you have to think about our schools and the multiple entrances. Do you just reduce entry to one place or because some of our campuses are fairly large, do you put them at multiple places?” asked Joe Cobb, Roanoke City Council member.

Roanoke City Public School Board sent WDBJ7 the following statement:

“We, like our parents and the community, are concerned and frustrated by the recent acts of gun violence in our city that are now impacting our schools. Our schools are a microcosm of what is happening in our city and in the nation; therefore, we need the Roanoke community to come together on solutions.

Roanoke City Public Schools is committed to providing a safe, high-quality educational learning environment for all students and staff members. We are committed to continuing to implement prevention and restoration strategies outlined in our strategic plan. These strategies include, but are not limited to:

  • Working collaboratively with the Roanoke City Police Department and Sheriff’s Office to secure our facilities.
  • Hiring more staff (teachers, counselors, and social workers.)
  • Organizing student and community events to keep students connected to school.

Roanoke City Public Schools will also host a Virtual School Safety Summit to discuss the current challenges and research-based best practices to ensure school safety. The use of metal detectors in schools is a complex decision, and the Summit will include this important discussion.

We invite students, parents, and teachers, as well as community, faith-based, and school leaders to join us for this important discussion. Details about the Summit will be released as logistics are finalized.”

“I think overall, our schools are very safe. I think the school administration has put in a lot of protective measures that have increased security and safety and I’m grateful for that. Overall I don’t fear for my kids’ safety at school but when something like this happens, I think we’re all grappling with how does a student carry a gun into school that’s loaded, and so then you begin to ask, well, whose responsibility is it to check these things?” said Cobb.

We also reached out to the Roanoke City Public Schools Superintendent. Her office sent WDBJ7 the following statement:

“Roanoke City Public Schools’ top priority is always the safety of our students and staff. We want to reiterate how proud we are of our students and staff at Lucy Addison Middle School for remaining calm yesterday. We also want to thank our parents and guardians for their patience and understanding as we worked to reunite them with their students.

As Superintendent White says, “School is more than school.” This means we must provide our students the resources and supports they need. RCPS is committed to continuing to work with our city’s leadership as well as civic and community partners to ensure our city and schools are an environment where our youth can thrive. We must all continue our work to empower our city’s youngest citizens to dream, excel, and meet their full potential. This will benefit our city and all citizens.

We are committed to doing everything we can to support our students and meet their needs. Recent initiatives include:

  • a volunteer reading program at Lincoln Terrace Elementary School in partnership with the Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission,
  • Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a college readiness cohort program for students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education, and
  • a new youth development and intervention coordinator position that will begin in July.

RCPS also has longstanding supports for our students, including:

  • daily social emotional learning exercises to help our students regulate their emotions,
  • school counselors and social workers, and
  • programs like Imagine Me Mentoring and 21st Century Learning.

Small and large, these initiatives and programs provide students with a sense of belonging and what they need to succeed, academically and emotionally.

We continue to ask the community to come together in support of Roanoke’s youth. What happens in our community impacts our students, our schools, and the future of our city. If you are interested in helping, please:

  • Contact a school to volunteer.
  • Contact the Roanoke Gun Violence Prevention Commission to learn more about their efforts or to volunteer for the Lincoln Terrace Reading Program by emailing gvpc@roanokeva.gov.”

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