Month after student brings gun to Stone County school, superintendent responds

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 7:04 PM CDT
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WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - Many angry parents are still demanding answers as to why the Stone County School District didn’t inform anyone when a student brought a loaded gun to Stone Middle School on Sept. 20.

This caused parents to gather on social media and at school board meetings demanding answers.

Natalie Mauffray has two children in the school district and said that the district communicates well when it comes to students’ needs, so she’s outraged that wasn’t the case for students’ safety.

“I got a message earlier today from the school-wide system saying it needs donations for a pizza party. We get notifications about sending money for school pictures. We get messages, day-to-day emails, phone calls, and with a phone system for district-wide messages,” Mauffray said.

Mauffray said that she has contacted the district multiple times and grew frustrated about finding out information through social media.

“It happened on Monday. I didn’t hear about it until Thursday evening until a parent posted a Facebook message trying to figure out what’s going on like the rest of us. I feel like it’s negligence. If you’re going to be entrusted with 3,000 students, you need to let us know. Kids bringing guns to school is a common occurrence. Things that should be communicated to parents, we feel is being hidden from us,” Mauffray said.

Mauffray said that it’s known that communication is what will help move forward when it comes to dangerous incidents, but she wants it to be practiced in any situation.

“Communication is key in any relationship, whether that’s a relationship with your spouse or your kids, and I feel like a relationship with a school should be the same way. We’re giving our kids to them 8-10 hours a day. They spend more waking hours with our children than we do. Right now, I don’t feel like my child is safe and that’s a sad situation to be in,” Mauffray said.

Stone County District Superintendent Inita Owen said that she felt like she made the correct decision at the time, but understands how parents are frustrated.

“Looking back now, we should have probably put out that generic statement, and we will from now on. More communication is better than less. We’ve learned a lot and we hope we don’t have to go through this again,” she said.

Owen said the district placed additional training for both staff and students.

Students were given the “see something, say something” presentation while staff attended a Power of Communication seminar.

Owen also said outside resources came to help adjust the district safety plan.

“Our plans haven’t been updated. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time. There is a plan in there it just does not say ‘When a child,’ it just says, ‘When a person brings a weapon.’ Those plans are revised and not required to be revised every year, but we have addressed them. There were very few revisions made this year,” Owen said.

The next school board meeting is Nov. 1, and parents have asked the public to join.

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