HPSD Superintendent addresses weapons incident

HPSD Superintendent addresses weapons incident
Woodley Elementary School

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A typical school day at Woodley Elementary took a serious turn Tuesday in a 6th grade class.

"A teacher noticed a student playing with something that looked like a gun," said Hattiesburg Public School District Superintendent James Q. Bacchus.

The teacher noticed the student showing the gun to others in class and intervened, it was at that time she noticed it was in fact a B.B. gun and a pocket knife.

"All the pieces around it to make it a toy look-alike had been removed, so from her vantage point it was a real gun," said Bacchus.

The teacher separated students in the class, and following proper protocol…school resource officers were contacted. The student was removed and taken to the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center.

"We handled it though as if it is a weapon that can cause serious harm," said Bacchus.

Multiple parents have raised concerns about it only being a B.B. gun, and a simple pocket knife; however the school has a zero tolerance for any weapon. Several parents also expressed concern of not being notified of the incident. It was in regards to that, which Bacchus admitted they dropped the ball.

"The piece that we did not follow up with, normally we follow up with a letter to our parents, letting them know what has taken place, and that particularly day we did not follow through," said Bacchus.

According to Bacchus, communication through the channels broke down and they did not get a chance to follow up with the parents of students.

Despite the failure of communication, Bacchus did praise the teacher for acting quickly and being on her toes during the incident.

"We are certainly pleased that our teachers are very proactive and always observing, they are always making sure they are in a safe environment," said Bacchus.

According to Bacchus, all of the other incidents involved in the district have resulted in letters sent home to parents.

The student in the incident has been charged with a felony, for the possession of a weapon, and has been removed from the school.

Bacchus added that the punishment is necessary, aside from it being a felony; it is the highest level on the school's discipline ladder in their handbook.