Roanoke city officials respond to school safety concerns

Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 8:15 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Police Chief Sam Roman, Roanoke City Sheriff Antonio Hash and Roanoke City Public Schools Superintendent Verletta White came together Friday afternoon to address concerns about school safety.

The news conference at the Roanoke City Police Department followed reports of a threat at William Fleming High School Friday morning that was deemed not credible.

In a separate incident Wednesday at Preston Park Elementary, the police department said a 10-year-old student will face petitions alleging a class six felony for threats to harm others at a school, and a class one misdemeanor for threats to damage a school building.

Speaking with reporters, the chief, sheriff and school superintendent acknowledged the concerns of parents, students and teachers and said safety is their top priority.

“The safety of our citizens, of our children, our students, is our fundamental concern,” Roman said as he opened the news conference.

“It is our duty to make sure that every day that the citizens of Roanoke City, our kids, are safe, added Hash.

“Recent events especially over the last several weeks have been devastating and heartbreaking and concerning,” White said, “and we know that every parent out there is concerned about the safety of their children and that is our number one priority as well.”

They said they are working hard to keep everyone informed, with the understanding that active investigations and privacy laws prevent them from releasing some information.

And with the school year coming to an end, they said they will have the people and the policies in place to keep the focus where it belongs.

“When we have incident across our country and even here within our city, we will take additional steps to ensure that everyone involved is safe with specific emphasis on our children,” Roman said.

“We are looking forward to graduation this year, and just as I said last year, we’re not going to allow anyone to take away this moment for our children that they so deserve,” White said.

School officials also acknowleded the concern of some parents who say they did not receive a robo-call about the recent incidents.

The school system is asking parents to double-check their voicemail. And if they didn’t receive the notification, officials encourage parents to contact their school to make sure the number on file is correct.

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