RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond school leaders discussed ways to protect their students and staff following a deadly graduation shooting.
The school board met for the first time on Tuesday night since the mass shooting outside of the Altria Theater. A teen and his stepfather were shot and killed moments after Huguenot High School’s graduation ceremony.
Kenya Gibson, a school board member, made a motion to hire a school safety auditor.
“We must make a hasty decision. We have had a student die, and… and we are going to sit on the stage and say I’m not ready to make a hasty decision,” she said.
Gibson passionately defended her motion, saying the district’s procedures need to be looked at closely.
“It is our responsibility to make sure that the protocols are followed,” Gibson said.
However, a majority of her other colleagues disagreed. Some members said they wanted to wait for recommendations from the school district’s director of safety and security. Other school board members said this was a multifaceted issue, and that they needed to address the root causes of violence and behavior problems.
Jonathan Young, another school board member, seconded Gibson’s motion. He also said the threat assessment team, made up of community partners like Richmond police and Child Savers, should have a wider scope of offenses with which to review a student.
“What we do now is way too permissive,” he told 8News.
Clifford Lent, a security consultant with M7 Solutions, agreed.
“A security audit is appropriate. I think a threat assessment team is appropriate. I think adding counselors who specifically focus on this issue alone is appropriate. Now, when they do that and how they do that is debatable and up to question,” he said.
The school board did approve nominal changes to the school district’s Student Code of Responsible Ethics — which is a guide that defines appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
Lent said he understands the school board’s decision to wait before spending money on another solution, and bringing someone in before having all the necessary information. He also thinks this is a high priority.
“This should be something that’s getting our full attention. Our full focus, consistently. Not just after an incident, but moving forward because this issue isn’t going away,” Lent said.
Richmond schools told 8News that the director of safety and security won’t be available until after the July school board meeting. A report on the school district’s investigation into the deadly mass shooting is expected within 30 days after the incident.