A weapons incident at Martin Luther King Jr Middle School has teachers at the school calling for something to be done.
Last Wednesday, October 30, several students at MLK Middle School were discovered to have pellets for a BB gun when the students began throwing them in class. As the suspected source of pellets was being removed from the classroom, he is reported to have said of his teacher, “I’ll beat her ass, I don’t care who fucking knows it”. The student was then taken to the school security office where a knife was found on his person.
When reached by telephone, the 6th District School Board representative Shonda Harris-Muhammed was aware of the incident and said that “we don’t tolerate students bringing weapons of any kind”. She said that the school system would follow student code of conduct and all procedures as bound by law.
All students enter MLK through metal detectors. Their coats and bags are nominally searched. The morning crush of students easily overwhelms the security officers at the machines, though, and a beep from the detector is explained away as a cell phone in a pocket with no more follow up.
It has always been understood that to effectively search more than 600 students would require more time than is allowed between the arrival of the buses and the beginning of classes. Teachers at the school are complaining that this is inadequate, and that security needs to be more of a priority.
Cletisha Lovelace, from the RPS Office of Public Information said that “no changes were made [to security] as a result of last weeks incident.”
Here’s the kicker: a real search was made, not the day after the incident with the knife, but two days later. That Friday, classes were delayed for a reported 45 minutes as the students coming through in the morning were thoroughly searched to ensure that no Halloween candy made it through the doors.
According to the school and system report cards on the Virginia Department of Education site, Richmond Public Schools reported 11,997 school safety violations system-wide last year (PDF), 7,776 of which were for Disorderly or Disruptive Behavior Offenses.
MLK Middle alone was responsible for 3,082 of these school safety violations (PDF), or 25.6% of all in RPS last year. In addition, MLK was responsible for 2,539 of the Disorderly or Disruptive Behavior Offenses reports, or 32.6% of the system total.
For some further context, there were 198 total offenses at Richmond’s Albert Hill MS (93 for Disorderly or Disruptive), 113 at Chesterfield’s Robious Middle School (35 for Disorderly or Disruptive), and 443 at Henrico’s John Rolfe (144 for Disorderly or Disruptive).