Parents divided over Durham school's response to security scare

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Parents divided over Durham school's response to security scare

A security scare at Sherwood Githens Middle School in Durham Tuesday prompted one parent to contact law enforcement after their child alerted them to a student bringing a gun to school Wednesday.

The parent told ABC11 they were upset with the school because they were not immediately notified of the threat and heard it for the first time from their child instead of the school.

Paul Garcia, whose 8th grade son attends Githens, feels otherwise. His son alerted him of an altercation between two other 8th graders but was broken up and "there was no big deal."

"[The school] don't want to call every time they hear something because then it gets the reputation that the school's not good," said Garcia. "If you're calling the house every time something happens, it becomes like the boy who cried wolf."

ABC11 reached out to Durham Public Schools Wednesday morning and communicated the concerned parent's position and asked why parents and students had not been notified.

Within several hours, the principal sent a Robocall message to parents that read:

Good afternoon, Githens Middle families. This is principal Crystal Isom-Adu with an important message. I wanted to address some of the rumors that we have been hearing stemming from an altercation between two students yesterday. Two students got into an argument and during the argument one of the students allegedly communicated a threat. School staff and law enforcement thoroughly investigated the threat. They found no evidence to substantiate the threat-nothing communicated by social media or anything suggesting that the student posed a danger to the school. We are following our safety and disciplinary procedures. Student safety is our top priority at Githens, and we know it's your highest concern as well. Thank you, and have a good afternoon.

"My first instinct was if something happened or really been wrong, we would have heard something," Garcia said. "I have a lot of faith in the faculty and staff here."

Furthermore, Garcia has no issue with how the school and district responded. "If they had told me, what would I have done? I still would have had my son come to school today. Unless they told me there was an imminent threat," he commented. "And if there was, I don't think they would have opened the school up."

Via telephone, Durham Public Schools told ABC11 their response to security issues are handled on a case by case basis depending on severity. In addition, their protocol is "entirely driven by maintaining a safe environment" and all threats are taken seriously and "fully investigated."

"I want you to do your due diligence then let me know when it is you have something and can explain it fully," Garcia added.



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