LUMBERTON – The Robeson County Sheriff met with local public school officials on Tuesday to discuss safety on school campuses.
The meeting was held between administrators of Robeson County public schools, high school principals, Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins and members of the Sheriff’s Office. Discussions focused on the ongoing partnership to ensure the safety of students and PSRC staff in the classroom.
“It was a very informative meeting as discussions took place to better provide a safer environment for school staff and students,” Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins said in a statement.
School shootings in Forsyth and New Hanover counties, along with loaded handguns found in the possession of students at local high schools in recent weeks, have spurred the need for communication and collaboration updates between the sheriff’s office and the PSRC on the district’s crisis and emergency management plans, according to Gordon Burnette, director of communications for the PSRC.
“Recent events in our state and our school district have put the safety of our students and staff at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” said Burnette.
“We want members of our community to know that school safety is a top priority, and administrators work hard to ensure and maintain the safety of our school buildings and those in them,” he said. -he adds.
Three students were suspended from August 30 to September 10 for possession of firearms on school property.
A 15-year-old Lumberton High School student was suspended on September 10 for having a .380 caliber handgun in his satchel. Two days earlier, a 19-year-old Purnell Swett High student had been suspended after school administration found a gun in his vehicle.
Additionally, a 10th grade LHS student was found in possession of cocaine and a loaded handgun on August 30 after suffering a seizure and the gun “fell out of his pants pockets,” Burnette said .
The gun did not fire and no other students were injured. The student was charged with possession of a weapon on campus, possession of a weapon by a minor, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of Schedule II substance (cocaine), said Burnette .
“There is no doubt that the vast majority of students want to learn by going to school every day, but it takes very little to disrupt this cause. We want everyone to feel safe attending or working in a school and it takes all of us to make it happen, ”Wilkins said.
Bobby Locklear, an assistant superintendent, explained at the meeting that directors are working on crisis management plans that will be submitted by the end of the week, according to Burnette. Crisis management plans will include the identification of a centralized meeting place in the event that students are evacuated from the school building.
PSRC Superintendent Freddie Williamson said the continued relationship with the sheriff’s office and municipal police departments is critical to equipping schools with school resource officers and protecting campuses and communities from the threat of violence.
Also on Tuesday, district administrators highlighted the importance of using resources like Gaggle and the Say Something app that students, teachers, and other stakeholders can use to report something they believe is a threat. for individuals in schools or within the community, Burnette said. .
The school district also expressed gratitude for the sheriff’s visit and his contribution to the meeting.
“We appreciate Sheriff Burnis Wilkins and his team for taking the time to meet with us today to discuss our district crisis management plans and their willingness to support our school district. When it comes to the safety and success of our students in Robeson County, we are all one team with one goal, ”said Burnette.
However, security efforts must begin at the house, according to the sheriff.
Wilkins called on parents to act Tuesday in a Facebook post that urged them to connect with their children and stay engaged in their activities to help keep them safe.
“This effort starts at home, because we need parents and guardians to be more involved in the daily activities of their children and teens… Check their backpacks and cell phones,” Wilkins said.
“Check the existence of various social media and text message accounts and hold them accountable for the information they disseminate. Know where your kids are, ”the sheriff said.