Shotgun in student’s truck is 2nd gun found in 2 days at Fayette schools

For the second time this week and the third time this school year, a gun has been found on the campus of a Fayette County school.

Just before dismissal Wednesday, officials at The Learning Center on Price Road found that a junior had a shotgun in his truck in the parking lot. The weapon was unloaded, but there was ammunition stored separately in the vehicle. The weapon was never in the building, principal Chris Salyers said in an email message to parents.

On Tuesday, an eighth-grader brought a loaded gun to Bryan Station Middle School, according to a letter sent to parents by that school’s principal.

In August, an inoperable gun was found buried in a field at Bryan Station High School, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Thursday.

Last November, three gun incidents in 12 days at Tates Creek High School led Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk to call for random metal detector checks at all Lexington public high schools and high school programs. Deffendall said Thursday that “for many years, our schools have had hand-held metal detectors on campus that they use at their own discretion. It would be irresponsible for us to share the specific plans developed by our schools, because the point of random checks is that students can’t anticipate them.”

Deffendall said those random metal detector checks would not have resulted in finding either the gun at the middle school, the gun in the truck or the inoperable buried gun.

“After studying the possibility of installing stationary metal detectors in our schools last spring, we determined that it was not a feasible or desirable direction for our district to pursue. Our comprehensive high schools serve between 1,600 and 2,300 students,” Deffendall said. “Asking that many students to pass through metal detectors each day does not create the kind of campus climate that we value.”

In both of this week’s cases, Salyers and Bryan Station Middle principal Robin Kirby said an investigation had been conducted and they were confident that the student did not have any intent to use the weapon at school and did not have it because of any situation related to school.

Meanwhile, Salyers, the principal at The Learning Center, said on Thursday that “there is no tolerance for weapons on our school campuses and the student will face serious administrative consequences to the fullest extent under the law.”

“The events of the last two days prove that the systems we have in place are working. In both cases, students confided in a trusted adult and we were able to respond immediately to maintain the safety of students and staff,” Deffendall said. “As we have said repeatedly, there is not a single solution to keeping our campuses weapon-free. Our district employs a five-pronged approach of prevention and deterrence that includes students, families, staff, law enforcement, and community.

“We need our families to ensure that students are coming to school only with the tools they need for learning. Both of the students who had weapons in the past two days brought them from home. Neither had any plans to use them at school.

“We ask our families to support us by being active in the lives of their students — ensuring that they don’t have access to contraband, regularly checking jackets, backpacks, pockets and vehicles, and encouraging children to be involved with friends and activities that support a healthy lifestyle.”

In addition to the three guns found this school year, Deffendall said three guns were found on Fayette County campuses in 2016-17. School “report cards” on the Kentucky Department of Education website that detail behavior incidents do not specify the kind of weapons involved. That report said seven Fayette County students had “behavior events” with weapons in 2016-17. Five were reported at Tates Creek High School and two at Lafayette High School.

Ten weapons were found at Fayette County Schools in 2015-16, according to the district’s school report card on the Kentucky Department of Education website. One weapon each was found at Tates Creek, Bryan Station and Lafayette high schools in 2015-16, according to the school report cards.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears