I Don't Know if My Kids Are Safe at School
I’m unsure how this is going to come out.
There are so many emotions and questions and whatever else that I just really don’t know how to put a filter on it all.
I’ve written before about the small town I live in. How it’s connected and homey. How I feel safe and rooted.
And that’s all still true. I see people every day that I grew up with, went to church (or skipped out on church) with. For better or worse, it’s all familiar. All things I know.
My kids are in the same school district I grew up in. The same buildings their dad inhabited. Sometimes the teachers have even been the same. I feel safe (or I have) knowing they’re watched over and protected.
But weeks ago, there was something… unsettling that happened. It was in the week following the Newtown tragedy, which made it more disturbing. I heard through gossip (another gem of small town living) that there had been an “incident” at the school my kids attend. A gun was mentioned. No one knew exactly what happened or why, but there was this electric tension of scandal.
So I did what any sane parent would do and I asked the kid most likely to talk -- Ava. I casually mentioned that I’d heard some things about a gun at her school, and all nonchalantly she says, “But mom, it didn’t even look real to me or I would have told the teacher.”
Turns out there was indeed a gun.
On the bus with my kids, in fact.
Photo courtesy the author.
What in the actual hell did I do with this information? What was there to do?
I figured surely a statement would be made, policies would be instituted… something would happen, right? There was no chance I was the only parent who heard or wondered. These people are charged with keeping my kids safe; they want me to believe they’re doing that, right? I of all people know how quickly things can get blown out of proportion and overreactions can happen… when it’s my family, though, shouldn’t I get to decide what’s important and what’s not?
But nothing happened.
The administration of the school district was quiet and people went on about their business. I brushed it off, because despite my bark I am really quite a pansy when it comes to speaking up about things. Now, I’m ashamed to admit that.
Last week word comes around that a principal at one of the middle schools in the district (not our school, but the same superintendent) has been suspended “pending an investigation.” Soon after it’s confirmed that he was actually fired, following a complaint of some kind.
But that’s it. Nothing has been said. No reasons have been given. Rumors have flown and minds have wandered and horrible situations have been concocted and spun. A local news station did a story featuring the school district’s attorney, whose house I used to go to for voice lessons. And whatever good they intended to do for their situation by having the attorney speak on their behalf… well, they didn’t do it. If anything it added more distrust and less confidence.
I do not aim to add to speculation. But this is the school system I trust with my kids. With their minds. Their day to day well being. All the things I miss while they’re away from me, I have given to these people. And based on recent experiences, I don’t really trust that they will tell me if my kids aren’t safe. I think I deserve to know if someone charged with protecting my children is capable of… hurting them.
So what can I do? Really, I’m asking. Because at this point we’re all headed to live somewhere in a bunker.