Masked, armed employee 'took it too far' in Wayne school lesson

Posted October 16, 2013

— Wayne County Public Schools officials said Wednesday that a school employee went a bit too far by entering a middle-school classroom wearing a ski mask and brandishing a toy gun as part of a lesson.

A sixth-grade class at Eastern Wayne Middle School had a citizenship "enrichment lesson" Friday on being observant of surroundings, and someone was supposed to walk into six classrooms, grab something off a desk in each and leave, district spokesman Ken Derksen said. The students would then discuss what they saw and how to respond.

"In this particular case, the staff member took it a little too far," Derksen said. "I think this person just got a little too much into the part.”

The masked employee, whose name hasn't been released, carried a black toy pistol into the classroom during the lesson, and one sixth-grader told WRAL News that the toy gun looked real and that the employee pointed it around her classroom.

"There were some children who went home crying," said the girl, whose family didn't want her identified.

Derksen said many students recognized who was wearing the mask and laughed about it, but some parents weren't amused by the incident when school officials sent a letter home Monday about the incident.

"There’s probably a better way to do that," parent Tammy Strickland said. "The ski mask, I’d be scared if I’d seen that, imagine a 12- or 13-year-old child."

"I said 'Wow, think of how psychologically damaging that could have been for these students,'" parent Patricia Williams said, recalling her reaction when she read the letter.

Eastern Wayne Middle School Wayne school officials say citizenship lession handled badly

But Joe Collins, an uncle of an Eastern Wayne Middle student, said lessons are better when they're more realistic.

"In my opinion, I think the realistic events – of course I have a military background – so the more realistic you can make it, the better it seems," Collins said.

Principal Cathy Fulcher referred all questions about the incident to district officials, although she said in her letter that the lesson "could have been done with more sensitivity."

Derksen said district officials are reviewing the incident, and the employee remains on the job. He wouldn't say whether any disciplinary action was taken.

"It just comes down to, in all the things that have happened in recent years, it was just really insensitive to students' concerns, and that’s where the issue lies," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Paul Parker Oct 17, 2013

    Wrong. This is not the policy.
    October 17, 2013 1:40 p.m.

    applesandoranges, based on that statement you are either willfully ignorant or outright lying!

  • LastSon1981 Oct 17, 2013

    Not only are people who "home school" quoting on things that happen in the real world they are carrying guns now. I cant wait to see what happens when they unleash their creation onto society.

  • Rocknhorse Oct 17, 2013

    "We need to teach kids on how to be prepared on todays reality so they will be able to survive instances in the future."

    I'll teach my kids that lesson in my way thank you very much!! I can handle it!! If the teacher wants to demonstrate observation, there are many other ways to do it. Watch a magician and see their slight of hand tricks and how they direct attention elsewhere while they perform a "trick" in full view!! Have someone come in and do something non threatening. But to terrorize the students??? Very ignorant decision and in our world of "zero tolerance" (another ignorance but that's a different topic all together) it should be addressed accordingly.

  • Rocknhorse Oct 17, 2013

    This teacher should be treated as any other person who did this on a school campus would be handled.

    1) Female, honors student w/no disciplinary record was expelled for accidentally taking wrong lunch bag (her dad's) which contained a paring knife to cut an apple. Criminal charges sought.

    2) Student who shoots clay pigeons competitively accidentally leaves shotgun in truck, calls mom and asks her to pick it up. He is expelled and criminal charges sought.

    3) Elementary student brings LEGO gun the size of a quarter to school and is expelled.

    I can continue.....

    Fire the teacher who KNOWINGLY went to school with the INTENT to TERRORIZE a middle school class of CHILDREN!!! Stupid judgement on that teacher's part!!

    I can and DO teach my kids, thank you!! I don't need school to teach my kids how to be terrorized!

    Idiotic decision!!

  • 678devilish Oct 17, 2013

    "No, if a student had done what this employ did they would have been expelled, arrested, and charged with making terroristic threats at the very least, so NO, firing the employee is NOT going to far!"

    You comment is worth repeating. I agree totally with you.

  • 678devilish Oct 17, 2013

    This person should absolutely be fired. This is no time for games when in this world the real thing is actually happening. No child should have had to endure all of that.

  • applesandoranges Oct 17, 2013

    "No, if a student had done what this employ did they would have been expelled, arrested, and charged with making terroristic threats at the very least, so NO, firing the employee is NOT going to far!"

    Wrong. This is not the policy.

  • Paul Parker Oct 17, 2013

    If it was a student bringing a toy gun, they would be suspended. I expect the same for the employee. However, firing would be going too far.
    October 17, 2013 10:21 a.m.

    No, if a student had done what this employ did they would have been expelled, arrested, and charged with making terroristic threats at the very least, so NO, firing the employee is NOT going to far!

  • Pepe Silvia Oct 17, 2013

    "Anyone that hears you are home schooling first makes that same stupid remark. Only because they cannot afford to do it or lack the intelligence to teach there children" - ThomasL

    Thomas, if you're going to call people out on their intelligence and ability to teach their children, then they're going to question your ability to do the same if you make remarks like that.

    (See what I did there?)

  • wral_viewer Oct 17, 2013

    This was an exercise about observing something and recalling details. I experienced it in college (minus the weapon) when someone came in and took something from the professors desk and left. It illustrated the point that people's recollection can very even when seeing the same thing.

    This is done WITHOUT the audiences prior knowledge (for obvious reasons). This wasn't a safety drill of any kind.

    It's an interesting exercise, but there is no justification in using an armed thief to do it and subject 11-12 year olds to that kind of fear to make the point.