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Aiken High parents continue conversation around school safety and leadership | Aiken Area Education | #schoolsaftey

Members of the public continued the conversation around the recent happenings at Aiken High School during the Aiken County Board of Education meeting on Aug. 22, this time turning their attention toward school and district leadership.

After a recent fight at Aiken High School raised security concerns, parents and teachers have been increasingly vocal about their worries and suggestions for change. During the Tuesday school board meeting, parents were especially focused on what improved leadership could accomplish for Aiken High. 

Jana Jackson, a parent of an Aiken High School student who spoke at the Aug. 8 meeting, returned to talk about an alleged lack of action from the school board.

“You hear us, but nothing has changed,” she said. “We need change of leadership now at the high school. We want you to hear us and take action.”

Jackson claimed that approximately 30 percent of Aiken High’s staff, including teachers, cafeteria workers and bus drivers have left the school “under current leadership.” Jackson later said that these rough numbers were provided to her by board member Cameron Neussle.

Another Aiken High parent, John Pettigrew, shared his thoughts on good leadership as a reinforcement for security.

“I know there’s plans to put up global fencing around the school and there’s plans for random metal detector checks,” he said. “And these things will probably help a little bit, but I don’t think they would have prevented any of the things that have happened here.”

He asked the board to “carefully consider the leadership at Aiken High School.”

Both Jackson and Pettigrew believe that respect for authority in schools can decrease safety problems.

“The principal has to be visible, has to know the students, has to let the students know that they care,” said Pettigrew.

Jackson followed by noting that “when you lose the respect of teachers, students and parents, you can’t recover.”

“We’re not asking for the bells and whistles,” said Jackson during a post-meeting conversation. “We just want the basics that we don’t feel the kids are getting (them).”

No comments by school board members regarding these statements were available by press time. 

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