STOCKTON, Calif. — Parents and students voiced their concerns Thursday night at a safety meeting held at Lodi Unified School District’s Bear Creek High School. The meeting came after a week of incidents at various LUSD schools, including a student bringing a loaded handgun to campus.
On Friday, fights broke out at Bear Creek High School's football game, as the Bruins hosted the Lincoln Trojans. Eleven people were arrested, including eight teens. On Monday, a Bear Creek student brought a BB gun to school and was arrested.
Then on Wednesday, another Bear Creek HS student was arrested after bringing a loaded handgun to school.
Two incidents happened on Thursday. First, a school resource officer discovered a student at Tokay High School had two pellet guns in their vehicle.
“School officials and the Lodi Police Department are handling the issue with the student and parent. At no time were students or staff threatened or harmed,” A Lodi USD Facebook post about the incident says.
Then, according to the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Office, a child at Turner Academy tried stabbing a staff member with a piece of tile. Nobody was injured and the student was taken to receive mental health care.
- 11 arrested after brawls at Stockton's Bear Creek High School football game
- Bear Creek High School student accused of bringing loaded gun to school
Thursday’s meeting at Bear Creek was originally scheduled to address the football game brawls, but the more than 100 people who showed up wanted to also discuss the guns brought to school this week.
"Gun safety is, like, such a Catch-22 because, yes, it's our First Amendment right to bear firearms, but they don't belong in school,” said BCHS mom Bonita Burks. “My son's a junior. He's supposed to be lit. He's supposed to be having a good time, going to dances, going to games, not even thinking about somebody bringing a gun to school.”
Burks said the fact that her son has to practice active shooter lockdown drills at school breaks her heart.
“I do understand the need,” Burks said. “However, it's sad that that's what it's come to... I cannot wait until my son is done with school."
The district a said it is taking a number of steps to address safety concerns, spokesperson Chelsea Vongehr told ABC10.
This week, the school board approved money to add more security staff at all of the district's high schools. Currently, school resources officers cover the entire school district, at each one of LUSD’s school sites.
Additionally, the district will roll out an anonymous reporting tool in early 2020. It’s a free program through the non-profit Sandy Hook Promise, founded by parents who lost children in the 2012 Sandy Hook Shooting, in which a shooter killed 20 children and six staff members at a Connecticut elementary school.
“It is called the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System. It teaches students to identify the warning signs of safety concerns before they occur, and to report them anonymously through the system,” Vongehr said. “All tips that are submitted anonymously are received by Sandy Hook Promise crisis counselors. They triage the tips into two categories: life-safety and non-life-safety tips.”
Life-safety tips are sent immediately to school personnel and local law enforcement, she said. The system is meant for not only potential school shootings but also everything ranging from bullying and suicidal thoughts to graffiti in the bathroom.
The district has also spent money recently on physical safety upgrades at each of the district’s buildings.
Bear Creek senior and homecoming king Vincent Ferrer said he feels safe at school. "You've just got to keep to yourself,” he said. “All this gun talk, all about these new school rules, I feel like we should find a way for people to change spiritually and mentally.”
Nicole Tran’s son is a sophomore at Bear Creek HS.
“No child should have to go to school and worry about being shot,” she expressed to Bear Creek’s Principal Hillary Harrell, who lead the meeting.
Harrell described safety measures the school is taking during academic hours and at football games.
“When it comes to finding a firearm, finding a BB gun, those are very concerning to me as a principal,” Harrell said. “They do not look like fake guns, they look real. They feel real.”
She encouraged parents with firearms – fake or real – to not only lock them up but also have conversations with their children about how serious they are.
Parents at the meeting emphasized that Bear Creek HS isn’t a bad school — it is a big school with 2,250 students.
“Bear Creek is no different than any other high school; you’ve got your good teachers and you’ve got your teachers,” Burks said, raising an eyebrow as she hit that last word. “You’ve got your good kids and you’ve got your kids. It’s not different than any other high school this size.”
Continue the conversation with Becca on Facebook.
FOR NEWS IN YOUR COMMUNITY, DOWNLOAD THE ABC10 APP:
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for ABC10's Morning Blend Newsletter