NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Less than two weeks after a six-year-old student shot his teacher, more than 100 parents and teachers filled the auditorium at Tuesday night’s Newport News school board meeting.
Their number one concern? Safety in schools.
“Our students do not wonder if there will be another school shooting. They wonder when and where,” said a Gildersleeve Middle School teacher.
Dozens of teachers spoke out, telling school board members they are fed up with behavior in school, how students speak to them and the lack of support and discipline from administration.
Two overflow rooms with TV’s tuned in to the meeting were opened to accommodate the crowd.
“Parents cussing at me thinking that they’re allowed to talk to me any kind of way,” said one teacher. “Kids talking to me any kind of way and I’m just supposed to deal with it. We’re tired,” said one teacher.
More than 60 people signed up to speak during the meeting.
Some questioned the effectiveness of metal detectors, asking who would man them. Others talked about the lack of support from administration when it comes to punishing bad behavior.
Parents talked about their children who are afraid to go to school.
“I want behaviors held accountable,” one parent said. “I want change. I don’t want to have a family dinner where I talk about where my kids will hide in their school. I would rather be discussing archery practice or listening to the adventures of a fourth grade safety patrol.”
Even students took the podium, some telling the board their high schools already have metal detectors but said they’ve only seen them used once and the rest of the time they sit in the gym and collect dust.
“At my time at Warwick High School, I have been hit on the backswing of a punch during a fight,” said one female student.
Tuesday’s board meeting was called to a close after an update on Richneck Elementary.
The school’s new interim principal, Karen Lynch, told board members that administration will address HR needs, staffing and will meet with parent focus groups before a return date is set.