Schools should have shared BB gun incident

It has been reported that more than a dozen parents at Sycamore Lane Elementary School in Laurinburg were upset about a third grader bringing a gun to school.

This newspaper was able to talk to at least one parent by phone and watched another bring up the issue at Monday’s school board meeting.

In addition to concerns about their children’s safety, Sycamore parents were irked that school officials failed to inform them of an incident that happened more than two weeks ago. Most found out through social media.

Of course, the problem is not ours alone.

Last month, a Madison,Wisconsin student was charged with allegedly bringing a BB gun to an alternative learning center. He was the second 13-year-old boy arrested for a similar crime in two days in that school district.

In nearby Marlboro County, a 12-year-old boy was charged with bringing a weapon onto school property after he was caught with a BB gun at Blenheim Elementary Middle School.

A Kansas fifth grader was suspended after bringing a BB gun to school and shooting a classmate in the boy’s bathroom.

In most of those cases — Sycamore Lane included — parents were unhappy with how the school districts handled the incident. They thought they should have been told more.

We do too.

According to the school district, the third grader had not planned to harm anyone, but wanted to show off his BB gun. Under the district’s code of conduct, the student was suspended and has since returned to school.

“While we don’t discount the seriousness or gravity of this issue and believe that students must be disciplined for their mistakes, they also should be given the chance to learn from those mistakes as well,” school officials said in a statement. “The student would have never been allowed to return to school if we believed that they were a threat to any student or staff member.”

We suspect that officials are correct in saying that there was little danger to the school in this instance.

But it is also understandable that parents — with little or no notification — would be both fearful and angry given the current climate of school shootings around the country.

School leaders know that strong partnerships with parents make for the best educational experience for students. A key to that partnership is open communication.

A letter should have gone out immediately to parents making them aware of the incident that occurred on the bus involving a third-grade student in possession of a BB gun. The information to parents should have also stated that no one was hurt, that the student was isolated and the weapon confiscated. The school should have also shared that appropriate disciplinary measures would be taken.

The job of teaching children includes keeping parents informed too.