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“Enough is enough.” Schools superintendent speaks on guns found in elementary school

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 2:04 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Public Schools Superintendent Verletta White held a news conference regarding the school district’s dealing with two unloaded guns found on an elementary school campus Tuesday. Watch the live stream of Wednesday’s news conference here:

White said as a parent, she agrees with parents who say enough is enough, and says the district is committed to keeping students safe, and says the district is looking at the potential merits of metal detectors on campuses, saying she understands many parents are against them.

White says the district is “Working with national experts, focus groups on the best ways to ensure safety. So we have plans in place but we’re looking at how to do we extend those plans given the world we live in today and recent events. How do we ensure safety even more so than we are today. We know people are for and against metal detectors - both have legit reasons for their positions. We’re looking at each position - the merits of each - to see how we can come together to decide on best course of action moving forward.”

The guns were discovered at Westside Elementary School by school administration and a school resource officer after the school received a report of a weapon on school property, according to a Roanoke City Public Schools spokesperson, who said school administration is cooperating fully with the investigation. No new information was released at the news conference regarding where specifically on campus the guns were found, who took them to school and who owns them.

The Roanoke City Sheriff’s Office says the school wasn’t placed on lockdown because the student involved and the situation were isolated.

Chief Operations Officer Chris Perkins said at the news conference that protocols were followed, given the fact that the guns were unloaded and the situation was isolated, saying a lockdown wasn’t warranted to keep students and staff safe.

Talking about communicating about the incident with parents, Perkins said, “We have a process in place: 1,023 calls went out. And we know that 238 of those were not received. Inactive numbers haven’t updated numbers in the system. We encourage parents and staff, update your numbers. Over 30 had been deactivated. Several were not answered. Many went to voice mail. 785 did get that call. And others, we encourage you to make sure our system is updated so we have your info. Call went out within minutes.”

White said it’s important that parents have conversations about safety with their children, and follow up by checking bookbags and other things students take to school. She urged families with guns at home to keep those guns secure. She also said incident protocols worked at the school in this case, but it’s also important to keep working to keep gun-related incidents from happening in the first place.

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