"There were a litany of charges against the school," Webster Parish School Board member Jerry Lott said at the last WPSB meeting.
"Perhaps (the charges were made) in an effort to paint a gloomy picture to parents in the Sarepta, Shongaloo and Cotton Valley areas by claiming those students would not be safe if they went to that (Springhill) school."
At a previous WPSB meeting, community member Nellie Sherrill said students were not safe at the Springhill school for numerous reasons.
"Students bring cameras into restrooms while forcing other students to do things that are despicable and humiliating and then publish the acts on You Tube," Sherrill said. "When people with inside information tell you that, you don't want your children or grandchildren to go to Springhill High – it gets my attention."
Responding to Sherrill's disturbing comments about the condition of safety and discipline at Springhill Jr/Sr High Lott requested a thorough investigation by a committee, with support of central office personnel, done within the next 30 days so the issues could be formally addressed.
WPSB Child Welfare and Attendance Supervisor Kevin Washington, along with Safe School Director Laura Evans, spoke to the board regarding the safety of Webster Parish schools and other comments made by Sherrill.
"I was saddened because I hate to see students make poor decisions, but I hated even more to see their failures discussed in an open meeting," Washington said. "It was very unfortunate that one school was singled out, and it was said that they have had more problems than any other school. I guess they were in the limelight at the time and someone took the opportunity to talk about things that had taken place."
Washington said that all schools face difficult situations and have students that make poor choices.
"If I were to pull a list out, I could show where students at every school have made bad decisions," Washington said. "This allegation did happen and was followed up and dealt with as our protocol states."
The parish is required to have a student Code of Conduct and each school is required to have a student handbook. When students violate the handbook, administrators and teachers are required to follow the policies in place.
"I think a question was asked as to if we followed those policies in that incident in Springhill," Washington said. "The school followed the discipline policy, a hearing was held, punitive and counseling was put in place to address the issues of those particular students involved.
"We did address those things and it was done according to policy," he continued. "Law enforcement was contacted to make sure there were no criminal charges. Every person involved understood they had the right to pursue criminal charges if necessary and the parents were satisfied. The issue was handled."
Washington said he feels Webster Parish is fortunate to have counselors and service available to students.
"We were fortunate to have counselors that provided four or five (counseling) sessions dealing with things that are new to us, and that's cyber space," Washington said. "Students film things and put it on You Tube.
"There is a fight on the playground or in the locker room and they film it and put it on the internet," he continued. "Before we had social media, I can remember freshmen being put in the toilet. When I played football, that was a right of passage."
Washington said that while scenarios such as he described may have been common with previous generations, social media has changed the discipline protocol.
(Editor's note: See Thursday's Minden Press-Herald for more on this story.)