BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Parents of students at an elementary school in Baton Rouge said they are not happy with the handling of a gun found on a student Friday.
It was a stressful Monday for parents of students at Wedgewood Elementary School. Many want to know why it took three days to be notified about the incident and why an administrator returned the unloaded gun back to the parent instead of giving it to law enforcement investigators.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office reported a gun was found in a 6-year-old student's backpack at Wedgewood Elementary just before dismissal at 3:30 p.m. The East Baton Rouge Parish School System confirmed a teacher found a gun in a student's possession and it was not loaded. EBRSS officials said the student was taken to the office and the weapon was secured. They added the child's family, school security, and a school drug task force officer were notified.
According to EBRSO and EBRSS, the school's principal determined on Friday that the unloaded gun did not present an immediate threat to the school and released the student, along with the gun, to his parent. EBRSO said School Board Security contacted deputies Friday around 6:15 p.m. Deputies noted the security officer reported he was contacted around 6 p.m. and added a deputy could meet with the principal at her office Monday for information about the incident. EBRSO stated a deputy was at the school by 7:15 a.m. Monday to speak with the principal.
Some parents of students at the school and teachers said they did not learn about the incident until Monday. Tequila Scott described the confusion Monday afternoon as she picked up her preschooler.
"There were several parents demanding their child, demanding answers, and the last thing I heard when I left out with the kids was lock the doors," Scott explained.
"More fear than anything; my first impulse was just to make sure that my child was safe," said Josh Shafer, another parent of a student at the school. "Teachers can't keep those things from happening, but I wanted to know what was in place to address the situation."
He also stated there could have been a different way to learn about what happened.
"Better communication. You know, they send out voice messages about PTA meetings and parent/teacher conferences. I would think this would be a good situation.," Shafer added.
"If you can't put the note in the backpack to send it home, which was kind of the excuse I got from the school, use the situation like that, so people that know about it aren't just sitting around all weekend wondering if anything's ever going to come of it," Shafer explained.
An automated call about the incident went out Monday evening, explaining to all Wedgewood parents what happened. The school board said it had to wait for all of the facts from the sheriff's office before sending out a mass notification and causing unnecessary panic.
"I feel like they had enough facts at the end of the day to where they had time, especially over Saturday and Sunday to at least say something Monday morning," Scott added.
Rumors about what happened started swirling and Shafer said he caught wind of the incident over the weekend. He added one person at the school Monday initially told him the gun was a toy. He said he later got a personal apology from Supt. Warren Drake.
"The social climate we're in these days, everybody wants to see that something's being done about the issue," Shafer said.
"There was more panic from the lack of communication. That created a whole other level of panic," Scott said.
Some parents said they received the automated call Monday evening, but Scott said she did not.
According to EBRSO, the child's mother said the gun gets locked up, but that her 19-year-old son takes it out for protection when she is not home. Deputies added family members believe the child found the gun and put it in his backpack.
The gun was confiscated again on Monday by sheriff's deputies. School officials said the student is being disciplined in accordance with the rules.
The investigation is ongoing.