A student’s poor decision to bring a gun to Clayton Middle School last week was unfortunate not only for him and his fellow students, but for the entire school system.
It’s the kind of action school officials take seriously and the resulting consequence for the student and his mother – in this case, criminal charges – will be severe.
Johnston County school officials make it crystal clear – and common sense should dictate – that bringing a gun to school is about as bad a thing as anyone can do.
But the fact of the matter is, no matter how much school officials discourage an action, and no matter how severe the punishment, students will from time to time ignore those rules and do what they darn well please.
That’s not the school’s fault. It’s not the school system’s fault.
In this case, the school system has drawn criticism from parents, not because the child brought the gun to school, but because of the way they communicated with parents about the incident.
In a letter sent home to parents and in a robo call, school leaders told parents only that a student brought an “inappropriate item” to school.
In subsequent interviews, school officials said they didn’t want to needlessly frighten parents by telling them exactly what the inappropriate item was.
But knowledge is power. Using vague terminology only allows parents to conjure up a host of ideas. Was the student carrying a machine gun? Did he have a bottle full of prescription pills? Was he in possession of some crack cocaine?
Parents are adults and they can handle a frank explanation of what happens at their child’s school. Johnston County school leaders should understand that and should want to invest as much knowledge as possible with parents so they can properly respond to such a situation at home with their own child.
By all accounts, the school system handled the incident well. No one was hurt. Another student properly told a school official about the gun and the student and the weapon were promptly secured. The school system shouldn’t work to minimize the flow of information about that to the public.
We are glad to hear that school system leaders will review their response and adjust their processes if they find weaknesses. We are sure they will find it in everyone’s best interest to improve communications with parents when an incident like this happens in the future.