Thursday May 28 2009
Eighth grader brings gun to Foresthill school
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Students reminded to report safety concerns immediately
School officials and parents are reeling from an eighth-grader’s decision to bring a gun to campus. This week Foresthill Union School District Superintendent sent a letter to parents informing them that a student who brought a firearm to Forest Divide Middle School will not return to campus. Jim Roberts wrote in a letter dated May 26 that staff found out about the incident Tuesday. On May 21, the student reportedly brought the gun to school. On Tuesday, the student was arrested and “appropriate disciplinary measures will be taken,” Roberts wrote. Roberts continued to say the incident is “by no means resolved,” but he assured parents that students and staff are safe. He said the school will make changes to procedure or add safety measures if necessary. “I would like to reiterate that school safety is our No. 1 priority,” Roberts wrote. “This event demonstrates again that small, rural towns like Foresthill are not immune to this type of incident.” Kim Cochran, a Foresthill resident whose daughter attends the elementary school in town, said she was surprised to hear of a gun on campus. “We moved from Antioch where you have kids who come to school with a gun and you have to watch out for that,” Cochran said. “We moved the kids here to be away from that. We’ve lived her a long time and when I heard about this I thought, ‘wow, not in my town. Things like that don’t happen.’” In a prepared statement to the Journal, Roberts said the gun was in the student’s backpack and not taken out while on campus. He added that the firearm was not loaded nor was there any ammunition with it. “We are saddened and disappointed over this unfortunate incident,” Roberts said. “Kids make mistakes but this was a big one.” Roy Price, who said his grandson attends the middle school, said he thought the incident could’ve been handled better. He said he wished police would’ve been on hand when school staff first apprehended the boy. He also thought parents should’ve been notified earlier and by the school. Instead, his family first learned of the incident from his 13-year-old grandson. “It upset me that the principal found out about this and the first thing to do was go into a classroom and get somebody instead of calling the police,” Price said. “Let the police go in the classroom.” Cochran said the letter sent to parents concerned her because it stated the issue was still not resolved. She said she hopes the incident sparks conversation between parents and their children. “I think people need to open their eyes and talk to their kids about it,” Cochran said. “(Talk about) how it’s not OK to do these things.” Roberts said no threats were made to any students or staff and no one was injured. He wrote in his letter that the school will continue to work on the problem until they know there is no longer an issue. Shannon Jacinto, principal of the middle school, said students were reminded that if they have any information or are worried about their safety, they should find a way to alert an adult. She recommended that students even slip an anonymous note to a teacher, make a call from home or any other means to protect everyone’s safety. Jacinto said since the discovery of the firearm, a school resource officer has increased his presence on campus. Overall, Jacinto said the campus is healing from the incident. “I’m out in the parking lot every day, helping move traffic through and chit-chatting with parents,” Jacinto said. “It’s been calm and the feedback has been thank you.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment.