More than 300 people, mostly parents, attended a meeting, Monday, with school
officials on the Aug. 26 incident at Ridgeview Charter School, in which a loaded 9 mm gun
was removed from a seventh grade student. He was
arrested and is in the Fulton County judicial system.
A few parents have told Patch they were not satisfied with the meeting moderated by Ridgeview Principal Lisa Hastey, and unhappy with responses from superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa.
“The most telling moment came when superintendent Avossa lost his cool when audience members strayed from the hand picked questions,” said David Bailey in an email. “Lots of ‘We can’t' comments. Lots of ‘We are working on it and will get back to you.’ “
Riverwood parent Bill Gannon said, “People wanted to know if the kid was in a gang; how many rounds were in the gun. Officials were vague and the audience was frustrated.”
Fulton Schools spokesperson Samantha Evans said the meeting was not called by the school district. “The governance board pulled together a safety task force after this whole thing happened. Some parents were upset and felt we didn’t tell them everything.”
Parents wanted to know if they could fund metal detectors. Also questions were raised about the seventh-grader’s older brother. School administrators discovered the older brother had two bullets in his pocket at school. Evans said there was no gun involved in that incident and did not identify the school that the brother attended; however, a parent identified the school as Riverwood International Charter School.
The brothers' incidents were not linked, Evans said, adding that she could not legally say if the brother was expelled but students that act against the school system's Code of Conduct are disciplined.
Parents also expressed concern about gang activity. The Ridgeview student claimed affiliation with the gang, Vatos Locos, but a Sandy Springs Police gang specialist senses he may have been trying to be something that he’s not because of his age, said SSPD Chief Ken DeSimone during at a City Council meeting on Sept. 3.
Regarding Monday’s meeting, Gannon said, “The school board said it’s not illegal to be a member of a gang. That’s true but people did not want to hear that.”
Evans told Patch that school officials and Mark Muma, head of Safety and Security for Fulton schools wanted to address parents’ safety concerns and proper protocol. Sandy Springs Police including Public Safety Director Terry Sult were also on hand to answer questions.
Adelene Long, Ridgeview resource officer on the date of the incident, is no longer with the Fulton Schools System, as a result of protocol not being followed. Long told Channel 2 news that she was forced to resign or be fired. An Aug. 30 investigation found that she failed to adequately supervise the incident when she was notified a student may be in possession of a gun. An assistant principal, Kenneth Young, removed the gun from the student.
During Monday’s meeting, parents expressed concern that the school was not locked down. DeSimone has said that once the situation was contained with the gun in Fulton Schools Police possession and the student in custody, there was no need.
Gannon agrees. “I think the school system did what they need to do. I think they did a good job and did what they need to do in not closing down the school.”