MEXICO - School officials were anticipating a meeting on Thursday with one concerned parent, but a private meeting turned public when close to 30 parents and students showed up to address their concerns. Parents raised their voices hoping to find out what took so long for the news they say jeopardized their children's safety.
School district officials said a 13-year-old boy brought a gun on the school property after hours Monday. Authorities said the boy was in possession of the gun in a trailer court in Audrain County before bringing it to the school. School officials said when he got on school property, he hid the gun by the concession stand next to the soccer fields on the middle school property. He then went inside the building for an after-school activity. The Audrain County Sheriff's Office and the Mexico Public Safety Department found the gun around 8:30 p.m.
Many parents didn't hear of the incident until Wednesday afternoon. The school district said it heard of the event Tuesday morning and sent out a news release later that day. It didn't make mass phone calls to parents, however, until Wednesday.
"We wanted to make sure, there were still some things floating around. We wanted to make sure we were accurate, that we were sharing information we knew to be true," said Zach Templeton, assistant superintendent.
But parents continue to be angry and upset about the late notification and what they call a lack of communication from Mexico schools.
"I understand that they did remove the gun," said Sher-Re Bird. "They did take care of the situation, but who's to say that another kid isn't going to do it. So I mean, I can see the fear in any of the kids or any of the parents."
"If there had been a threat, the school maybe would have responded differently," said Superintendent Kevin Freeman. "The incident was isolated by the time school started on Tuesday. That's a discussion we will have in the coming weeks when we review our response to the situation to see if she should have done anything differently. Truly, we think we acted appropriately, we know our kids were safe and we know we didn't have any issues."
School officials present at tonight's informal meeting told parents they can schedule individual meetings to talk about concerns. Officials are considering another group meeting in the future.