Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Thank you for keeping our children safe

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Feb. 4, 2014 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 3, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.

We all have some things we hope never happen in our communities. On Jan. 22, one Victoria school had a frightening incident that ignited fears of parents, students and the community.

That day, a student at Patti Welder Middle School was apprehended with a gun on campus. According to reports from VISD and the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, the seventh-grade student was taken into custody by school resource officers as soon as the school administrators were tipped off about the gun about 12:30 p.m. The unloaded gun was found along with some ammunition. The student is being detained in the Victoria Regional Juvenile Justice Center until Thursday. Then, the student will have a second detention hearing.

The district chose to send students home with a letter explaining the incident and also posted a copy of the letter on the district's website. The district has taken some criticism from some parents and online comments for choosing not to put the school in lockdown. But when the facts are considered, we believe the district responded appropriately to this situation.

As soon as students informed school administrators of the weapon, action was taken to apprehend the student and locate the gun. We do not know the full extent of the student's intentions, but we do know he had ammunition. If administrators had put the school into lockdown, that might have alerted the student and caused him to take action. In addition, the student was outside the school building on one of the athletic fields at the time.

Some parents said the district should have called parents instead of sending home a letter. However, this would have been counterproductive in this situation. If the school faced an ongoing emergency involving the need to evacuate students, then the district would have been wrong to notify parents. Instead, the situation was dealt with quickly and without any violence. Calling parents would only have incited unnecessary panic and chaos. The situation was well-handled, and the rest of the students were able to continue their studies and classwork with little to no interruption. If parents had been called, there would likely be people pouring onto campus and asking to see their children or take them home for the day even when the danger was already dealt with and gone. The district was right to notify parents of the situation, and the method of notification was appropriate when considering the circumstances of the incident.

It is impossible to take action that pleases everyone, especially in cases as frightening and controversial as this. We hoped that this situation would never unfold in our area. But now that it has, we are comforted knowing that VISD has schools staffed with people who know how to respond appropriately and protect our children. We applaud everyone who helped in this situation, especially the students who were brave enough to do what is right and report the weapon to administrators.

We are proud to know our schools are well-protected. Thank you for keeping our students safe. We hope this situation never arises again, but if it does, we know VISD is ready.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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