My daughter is a freshman at Grady High School in Atlanta. Grady is an intown public school that is a part of the Atlanta Public Schools system, about a mile from the center of Midtown Atlanta. We leave about a mile from the school. We live in the city and send our kids to public schools. We believe experiencing diversity while young better prepares you for the rest of your life. But we could be wrong.
On Wednesday morning at about 10:20am I got a call from my wife. "Kate texted me" she said, "there's been a shooting at Grady". The fact Kate was texting was good. I called her, she answered, something that does not happen all the time with a 14 year old. It certainly does not happen with a 14 year old during the school day. She was shaken but laughing. The school was on hard lock down but she was in a trailer with a sub who did not have the key to lock the door. Students were hiding under desks. Fearing for their lives. Why she was laughing I knew not, her own nervous fear I suspect.
Students were using their smart phones to figure out what was going on. Seems a girl shot herself in the leg. My daughter was in lock down in a trailer with no lock and a sub that had no idea what was going on. Just after noon I got a text from my daughter. "Pick me up please." "Be there" was the response.
Walking onto the Grady campus where some student just shot themselves was a little surreal. It actually seemed too normal. Lots of kids were in the parking lot deciding where they were going to gather for lunch and the rest of the day. I went to the main courtyard darn close to where the gun went off, waiting for my daughter. As I did so I was serenaded by the sound of metal detectors as students went into the cafeteria. Detectors singing out warning to which no one took heed.
She came out. "What happened" I asked. This is what she said, more or less.
"Big Morgan was changing classes. Her first class is PE and you do not have to go through security to go to your first class. She had a gun in her purse and the safety was off. She shot herself in the leg, threw the gun in the bushes, and went to the nurses station."
"So how would she get from her first class to her second class with a gun?" I innocently asked. "Well when you go through the metal detectors you but your purse and backpacks on a table, the teachers give them a pat or two but they really do not look at what is in the bag" she replied. "Somebody told a friend of mine that they knew of at least five people that were carrying guns to school on a daily basis."
Let that sink in for a moment.
Students are packing heat at high school. And the reaction from the Atlanta Public Schools administration is that schools are "not designed to be fortresses” and that Big Morgan did not “did not follow protocol to check in.” The girl is 17, packing a gun to school, and has already been to court this week for some other matter. She is committing a felony along with all those other students on campus carrying weapons. I suspect that she, and the others carrying weapons that are smart enough not to shoot themselves, do not really care about protocol. I suspect that she and other students know how to get weapons into the school. They are free roaming convictable felons.
According to one student interviewed by The Atlanta Journal “It’s not that hard to get anything into Grady.”
And that has to change.
And the only way that is going to happen is for the Atlanta Public School system to lift their head out of the sand and admit they have a big problem. If not only one, but two student shooting incidents within a month is not enough to do it I am just going to have to nudge them along a bit.
First condoned cheating and now condoned violence. Geez-o-pete.