Gulfport School District officials are working to quash rumors and allay parental fears after a second-grader at Bayou View Elementary School brought a BB-gun to school on Thursday.
District spokesperson MC Price Barton praised the teachers involved for handling the incident according to district policy, but communication with parents was an area the district will likely work on, she said.
That hasn't stopped some parents' anger over what they said was a lack of information and communication.
The incident occurred Thursday morning, when a student reported to a teacher that a fellow student had a gun clip -- from what was later discovered to be a BB gun -- in a pocket. The teacher confiscated the clip and called a school administrator. The backpack was confiscated and the BB gun was found, Price Barton said.
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The student never displayed the gun in a threatening manner, Price Barton said, and teachers and administrators never took out the gun in view of other students.
The student was taken out of class, Price Barton said. The school was never placed on lockdown.
"We're very proud of the administration and teachers for how they handled the situation," Price Barton said. "Of course, it is scary that we have a 2nd-grader bringing a gun to school. We're encouraging parents to continue to have the conversations with their students to report suspicious activity."
She also praised the students who reported the clip to the teacher.
Price Barton said the student had apparently retrieved the BB gun after a parent threw it out and then hid it in the bag.
The incident remains under investigation by the district.
Price Barton said district officials have heard the rumors that the student was threatening his teacher but have no information to back that up.
She also batted down the rumor that the teachers involved have been disciplined or removed from the classroom. Of the three teachers involved, one was in class Friday, and the other two had planned absences.
"Absolutely not. There is no truth to that. The incident is still under investigation." she said. "If anything, we praise them for what they did. You have to react within seconds. You don't know if the gun is real or not. They did what they were supposed to do."
The district will send out a letter to parents on Friday.
Bunny Isgett-Lynn, a grandparent who sees her grandchildren off and on the school bus, said her grandson, who was in the class, mentioned it to her in passing while waiting for the bus Friday morning. "It was a casual conversation at the bus stop," Isgett-Lynn said. "Why didn't they contact his mother, who works at Bayou View Middle School? She didn't even know."
Isgett-Lynn and Rebecca Clark, who is vice president of the Bayou View Elementary PTA, said they can't understand why parents had to find out on social media about the incident.
"I think the silence speaks volumes," Clark said. "Why not communicate with the parents? After all the things they do call about, why not this? Or why not call a meeting for second-grade parents?
"The administration has done nothing to show us they care about our kids. The teachers did."
Clark and Isgett-Lynn said posts about the incident on the Bayou View Elementary Facebook page were taken down and Clark was told to remove a post on her personal page about it.
"I was told to take the post down because I was creating fear," Clark said. "We just need to know the truth."
Clark, who has two children in second grade at Bayou View, said her children would not return to school until she has some answers.
"We feel we have to stand our ground," she said.