Parents and community members from the Tates Creek High School area packed the school’s library Wednesday evening to seek answers about weapons on campus.
Tates Creek Principal Sam Meaux validated the community’s concern about a student bringing a gun to Tates Creek High School on Monday. It was the third time an incident of this kind has occurred at the school since Nov. 2.
“I know sometimes people instantly think, ‘Where is the cover-up? What are they not telling me?’ There is no cover-up, not at all,” Meaux said. “I have been in Tates Creek for 27 years, and it is very personal to me. I don’t want a gun in Tates Creek High School. They are your biological children, but you don’t think we love them?”
More than 250 people attended the forum, which also included remarks from Lexington police Commander David Lyons and Lawrence Weathers, director of Fayette County Schools law enforcement.
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The audience peppered both officers with questions about how truant students should be handled and whether the schools could be doing more to find weapons.
“There is a balance we have to strike on this.” Lyons said. “I don’t want to live in a town where the police are always stopping and immediately making an assumption, ‘I have to go through your things.’”
One of the chief concerns was Fayette County Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk’s implementation of random metal detectors at all Lexington high schools after Nov. 21, a policy he announced Monday. One mother in the audience rejected the “institutionalized” implication of metal detectors and championed the police for preventing three potential acts of violence.
Meaux raised concerns over metal detectors and the “false sense of security” they may bring. Tates Creek sophomore Griffin Dunn, 15, who shared that concern, also raised the issue of profiling.
“I still feel safe at the school ’cause the police are preventing anything from happening,” Dunn said. “I’d be OK with (metal detectors), but they need to be careful. Some people may think it may not be random, it could be discriminating.”
Meaux, who said he has met with Tates Creek teachers to go over lockdown drills and “tighten up” the school’s hall pass policy, added that “the safest place for students is in class.”
The first gun-related incident this month happened Nov. 2 when Lamaar Dequan Sanford, 18, was found carrying a loaded gun.
On Nov. 9, Tates Creek staff witnessed a student trying to hide a gun in the library.
On Monday, police picked up a truant Tates Creek student and brought him to campus. A loaded gun was found on the student when he was searched, Meaux said.
All three students were charged with possession of a weapon on school property; Sanford was additionally charged with possession of a concealed deadly weapon and resisting arrest, according to the Fayette County jail website.
According to district policy, all three students will go through the expulsion process and will not return to Tates Creek, Meaux said.
Tates Creek Parent Teacher Association president Tina Moorhead asked PTA members to pause before doing anything extreme, such as pulling their children from the school.
“This is a cry for help from kids that are in way over their heads in life. We have kids that don’t have money to eat. Parents are never home because they are out trying to cover two jobs. So we have a lot of kids that are raising themselves,” Moorhead said. “We have to get to the bottom of why are these kids turning to guns and violence as the next step.”
Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso