Several parents attended Thursday’s Scott County Board of Education meeting pleading for metal detectors or other safety devices in light of Wednesday’s incident at Great Crossing High School.

A15-year-old student was apprehended at the school around 1 p.m. with a loaded handgun after another student alerted officials. School resource officer Ben Martin has been hailed for his work in quickly defusing the situation.

The parents shared their concerns that the student had been on campus for nearly four hours with the handgun, demanding to know what it would take to get metal detectors or other safety measures in the district’s schools.

“I am very appreciative of the staff and faculty at Great Crossing High School, and Ben Martin who recovered the firearm (Wednesday). Once they found out he had it, it was within minutes they had it,” said Ginelle Lester. “I think we have the best educators and the                 way they got the information worked.

“But no one knew he had it for four hours. Somebody walked in to the school with a loaded gun, and that is a problem and terrifying to me. It scares me. And now that someone knows they can get in, someone else may try it. It happens all over the country.”

Parents Ashley Adams and Emily Turner, among others, asked the board put safety on future agendas, adding they believe the issue needs to be discussed.

Other parents said in emotional pleas and through tears, “Do whatever it takes so we aren’t burying our children.”

One parent said the board had voted to not include metal detectors, but board Chairman Kevin Kidwell said there was never a vote but there had been lengthy discussions on metal detectors and safety.

“We don’t normally comment during public comment time because we feel that is your space. But on this subject I do feel we should,” Kidwell said. “I have a child at Great Crossing High School, too. This board has thought and discussed a great deal about safety and putting student safety first.

“What this district has done is put in place a safety committee, long before the state even required it. I sit on that committee, and will definitely speak with them about the concerns you have raised. We meet monthly and not whenever something happens. We will do our research and due diligence in discussing safety concerns.”

Each parent that spoke ended with a common refrain.

“That weapon can’t get through that door,” Lester implored. “Do what needs to be done to not let that gun get through the door. What is it going to take to have a discussion on this? I don’t care if you have to raise taxes. Safety comes first.”

Steve MCClain can be reached at smcclain@news-graphic.com.

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