Following Knife Fight, Parents Concerned About School Safety - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/10/05

Following Knife Fight, Parents Concerned About School Safety

Parents are worried today about their children's safety while at school. A knife fight broke out at HE McCracken Middle School in Bluffton yesterday, injuring four students. We spoke with school officials and parents about what needs to be done to ensure safety.

Many parents are concerned about their children going back to school and several even told us they kept their kids home.

Today wasn't an ordinary day for students at McCracken. The talk among them was a knife fight from yesterday. The talk among parents is safety for their children.

"I have a daughter in the fourth grade now, and in a year or so, she'll be in the middle school and it really concerns me," said Kathy Phagan.

"I'm concerned, yes, but they have to go to school," noted Karen Roberts.

School officials say Wednesday's fight was an isolated incident and parents should not worry. "In terms of procedures we have in place, it looks like staff was on top of the situation and was able to contain it quickly," said the school district's Tom Hudson.

But that's not enough for some. "Some kind of crackdown needs to be done," said Roberts. "Some kind of something needs to be done."

Some of the concerns go back as far as two years ago. That's when two McCracken students beat 14-year-old Francisco Bellman so badly in a school bathroom that he died.

The school took steps after that incident, including increasing video surveillance, providing extra training for staff and stepping up hallway monitoring.

Hudson tells us after this most recent attack, they plan to review their procedures again. "Doing everything prudent and everything in our power to make sure the safety and security of the facility is in place."

Parents want the school to take every step needed to make sure their kids are safe. "I don't think there are any easy answers," said Phagan. "I know teachers can't be everywhere, every time, every minute of the day, but certainly they could do something different."

Police say the boy who brought the knives to school is now out of the hospital. He's been charged with assault and battery with intent to kill. The other three involved in the incident are being charged with assault and battery.

Police are charging a fifth boy who picked up a knife and brought it to class as an accessory.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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