Minden Press-Herald

Oct 02nd

School security questioned

A fight involving two teen-aged girls – one in possession of a knife – on a local middle school campus Friday, was part of Webster Parish School Superintendent Steve Dozier's report last night.

During the meeting, Dozier said he was grateful no one was injured in the incident.

"We are lucky no one was seriously hurt," he said. "We are taking measures and speaking with authorities to see if we can get someone out there during the short term, (to) take a look and secure that site again."

However, Dozier questioned the school system's ability to control student behavior.

"If it hadn't happened there (at the bus transfer point), would it have happened at a different location? Would it have happened on a bus? That is even scarier," he said. "You may stop it at site A, but 35 years of experience tells me if they want it to happen, they will find a spot for it to happen. You just have to have people in the right spot when it does. That's all you can do. I've worked in a district where a kid got stabbed on a bus, in the back, and it is not good."

Board member Frankie Mitchell also has concerns about Friday's situation and the problems faced at the busing transfer stop.

"I wouldn't want to send mine (children) out there (bus stop)," Mitchell said. "We need to see about getting with Cropper (Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper) and getting some help at that stop, because it is not worth saving a dollar if we are going to lose lives."

Robert Holloway agreed with Mitchell.

"I know we might have to spend some money on this, but it's worth it for security," he said. "You're not blowing money when you are spending it on security for students.

"If one person had been seriously hurt the other day, we would be talking about having that extra security there tonight," Holloway continued. "That is the way it is, sometimes we react too late."

Holloway also said he appreciates the dedication to student safety that was shown by faculty involved.

"That was a very dangerous situation," he said. "I think the personnel involved, there in the battle front, need to be thanked.

"I was on duty at times myself and I know what it is like to throw yourself into the fray," Holloway continued. "There are not any easy solutions, and I know you have been trying to find them. But the public needs to know we are trying to find something."

According to police reports, Emmanuelle Lyons, 17, of the 800 block of Durwood, was arrested for carrying a dangerous weapon on school property (felony) and two counts of aggravated assault and disturbing the peace by fighting.

Shanese Griffin, 17, of the 800 block of Woods Street was charged with battery on a school teacher (felony) and disturbing the peace by fighting.

Officers were dispatched to the school around 7:30 a.m. Friday. On their arrival, officers witnessed one female pulling the other away from a school bus on school property. Emmanuelle Lyons reportedly threw down the steak knife she was wielding as officers approached.

Reportedly, a teacher and principal attempted to break up the fight, when Griffin, who did not have a knife, allegedly struck the principal. Lyons, who reportedly had the weapon, was allegedly swinging it in the presence of the principal and the teacher.

The girls were catching a bus at the middle school that would transport them to a local high school. They were booked at Minden Police Department and transported to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.

At the beginning of last year, the school paid $25 an hour for an off-duty police officer after parents and students from other Minden schools caused issues at the middle school.

The officer was present during drop-off and pick-up times for approximately one month.

Often Minden Police officers can be found near schools during these times. However, other emergencies can pull those officers away, leaving schools attended by faculty alone.

While not related to the incident Friday, the discussion prompted board member Jerry Lott to ask if all schools are equipped with metal detectors and if they were being used regularly.

Kevin Washington, supervisor of Child Welfare and Attendance, said schools are required to turn in monthly reports concerning the use of metal detectors.

"I can honestly say this campus uses their detector more than the others. I hope that others look at this issue and decide to be more proactive about using theirs," he said.

However, Mitchell feels metal detectors may not have helped in this case.

"This happened at the bus stop," she said. "You are going to need police and two or three Army men out there for that."






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