Students Stage Protest at Groves - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/06/05

Students Stage Protest at Groves

Ever since a Groves High School student reported that someone tried to rape her in the bathroom, other students have been concerned about their own safety at school. They started a petition last week and today they protested.

The school is trying to get security cameras and more campus police officers. They want students to feel safe. The students say they aren't seeing changes made fast enough, and they want to feel safe now.

"No safety, no school," chanted protestors this morning.

Shouts from hundreds of fed-up students rang out at the Garden City school. The impromptu protest also featured chants of "keep us safe, keep us safe."

The protests are a result of ongoing school violence at Groves. There have been several fights. A teacher was hit by a car, and last monday a tenth grader says someone tried to rape her.

For the first time today, Courtaney Sample spoke out about the attack. "A guy followed me into a bathroom and hit my head," she told us. "When I woke up, my shirt was ripped and my pants were undone."

She joined her classmates in a protest to make Groves High School a safer place. "The students are making a difference, the school's not," Courtaney said.

Her mom, Dawn Sample, was out there too. "I want each of these girls to feel safe every time they walk into a school," she said.

While Courtaney doesn't plan to return to school at Groves, her older sister, who's a junior, is still there. "I don't know as a parent if I feel safe letting her finish out her senior year at Groves," Dawn told us.

Unless something is done, and done now. They want security cameras, more campus police officers, and more adults monitoring the hallways. They want to get the situation under control before more violence takes place.

"It's supposed to be a safe environment to get an education, that's not what this is," Courtaney said.

The protest lasted for about an hour, then the students when back to class.

School administrators and campus police let the protest happen, but they had a hard time breaking it up.

School administrators say they are doing everything they can to make the school safe. The principal,  Dr. Lucy Phillip, says the school is safer; a second campus police officer is now on duty at the school. New walkie-talkies are on order.

"We also have a company that may be coming forth to hopefully donate an entire surveillance system that we've been looking for," said Dr. Phillip.

But will that be enough for school officials to get a handle on these students? During the protest, an assistant principal used a megaphone to try to get students to go back to class while campus police and teachers stood by and watched.

Principal Phillip says she had an idea the protest was going to happen, but every student who participated and missed class will get an unexcused absence.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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