School apologizes after student sent back to class with gun in sleeve
Posted September 21
MANCHESTER, TN — How could a student, suspected of having a gun be sent back to class with the weapon hidden up his sleeve?
Well, it happened recently in Manchester, and now school leaders are trying to make things right with parents who have been losing sleep over this.
When Westwood Middle School parents first heard about a student bringing a gun to schools they were shaken, but at that time, disturbing details were left out.
"I actually felt sick, physically sick," recalled Lisa Gilmore, a concerned parent.
Manchester Police said the student was suspected of having a gun, so he was sent to the office.
Unaware the student stashed the gun up his sleeve before the search, the principal searched his backpack and sent him back to class when he didn't find a weapon.
While the firearm was unloaded, the student had also brought a six-round magazine to the school.
"There might not have been an intent, but there could have been an accident. There could have been a bullet in a chamber, and he takes it off to show it off; and some mother, some father has lost a child," Gilmore said.
The school was never placed on lockdown, and the gun wasn't recovered until the end of the school day.
"It scared me. I was sick to my stomach," said another concerned parent, Bradley Ramsey.
Parents packed Westwood Middle on Wednesday night, demanding an explanation.
"You have not earned my trust," said a parent.
Parents say they weren't notified until hours after the incident, and even then were given misinformation.
"The first thing we could have done better was notified the police when there was suspicion of a weapon on campus," said Director of Schools Lee Wilkerson. "We had an apparent delay in the notification as well, so those are the two things we could do better."
Wilkerson believes the students brought the gun to school to show off but had no ill-intent.
Wilkerson says a safety plan is being revamped, and all staff members will go through extensive training. He has also ordered metal detector wands for Manchester City Schools.
Wilkerson cannot discuss specifics about the student's punishment but says state law requires the student to be suspended for at least one year.
It's not clear yet if his parents will face charges.