Supt. explains why school safety meeting couldn’t be town hall

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Concerned parents and students wanted to use Thursday’s school safety meeting to talk about a gun found at Henry Clay high school.

Student Zach Sippy was the first to shout out.

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“This ought to be a town hall. Superintendent Caulk, you know better,” Sippy said.

It frustrated him the only comments he could make during the first meeting were texts that popped up on a screen.

During an expert presentation about the history of school safety, he wondered why no one was addressing the gun a fellow student had brought to his school that same day.

“How could you not address it right then and there off the bat?” ABC 36’s Veronica Jean Seltzer asked Superintendent Manny Caulk.

“Yes, and I heard the parents and what I wanted to try to reassure them is that the school safety meeting that we’re having in terms of the district is looking at the broader common set of solutions,” Caulk said.

He says he spoke with concerned parents and students after the meeting for a mutual apology. He explained the council’s discussions are not a town hall. They’re a time for the council to create solutions for the whole district, and quickly, before the end of the legislative session.

More than 60% of Henry Clay students stayed home Friday, though, an excused absence after many left early Thursday in fear.

“The main thing is making sure that we we see something, say something, that our students feel safe and that they’re using the tip line and trust me, they’re using it,” Caulk said.

Expanding the tip line is one of several immediate changes the district announced last week. A gun still got into school Thursday.

Superintendent Caulk says his plan to fix that includes doing drills, using metal detector wands more often, and adding staff to unsecured vestibules.

The council will recommend longer term solutions, including how to help strengthen communities. Several students who have brought guns to school have said they did so for self-defense in their neighborhoods.

“Now, a lot of people are saying, ‘Come on! There’s another gun in the school. Why no metal detectors? What’s the status of metal detectors?'”

“You heard last night when the two experts talked about metal detectors. They’re not fail safe,” Caulk said.

He says everyone has their own opinions about detectors and other aspects of safety. That’s why he wants the council to listen to experts and form recommendations, with input from the public too just not in a way that interrupts council meetings.

The Superintendent says he promised Henry Clay parents and students a town hall to speak about their concerns Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!