MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Calls by police and school administrators for calm, and assurances that there are no threats at Lee High School in Montgomery have not stopped hundreds of concerned parents from pulling their children out of classes for the day.
Montgomery Chief of Police Kevin Murphy says it's all rumor and adds there are no credible threats. He said there's an "adequate number of officers" on campus and said all students are safe. Murphy said everything that can be done to keep students safe is being done.
Superintendent Barbara Thompson, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and Chief Kevin Murphy released a joint statement regarding the day's events. It reads:
The safety of students and staff in Montgomery Public Schools is a top priority for the school system and the city of Montgomery. Recent events in the community sparked rumors that there would be some incident at Lee High School today. Much of this has been spread by social media.
The Montgomery Police Department and Montgomery Public Schools take rumors very seriously and are working jointly to check the validity of any reports concerning schools. MPS, in cooperation with police, has added extra security in schools and has begun screening visitors to our four traditional high schools. The additional security is an effort to be proactive and provide a secure learning environment.
Any rumors should be immediately reported to school officials. The superintendent, mayor and police want to reassure parents that everyone is working in the best interest of students and that safety is our primary concern."
The WSFA 12 Newsroom was flooded with calls from parents concerned about a possible situation at Lee HS. Some callers were very angry with the school system for what they believe has been inaction over threats of violence and other behavior that's caused turmoil at the school this year. Other viewers were in tears, believing erroneously that there had been a shooting at the school.
WSFA 12 News dispatched a crew to the school where hundreds of parents were in the process of checking out their children. One parent, Charles Richards, was clearly frustrated. His sons texted him saying they'd heard about a possible planned shooting.
"That scared the devil out of me," Richards said, adding that his sons haven't been to class in four days because of problems in the school.
When he arrived at the school, he said there were three teachers sitting at a table filing the papers for checkouts. "All they would tell me was, "This is the best day we've had in a couple of weeks,"" he explained.
Lee High School student Madeline Hurt said the day started off normal, but then the rumor started about kids bringing guns to school. "I don't think there's anything to worry about," Hurt said, "because we have all these policeman up here..." The student said class schedules had been frozen so students were kept from moving to different classes. She said it happens on a weekly basis.
School officials say all traditional high schools in the district, including Lee High School, are screening visitors as they enter the building .
Some parents have told our crew outside the school they are checking their kids out and while there's nothing school administrators can do to stop them from checking out their children, they say they want parents to know the facility is safe and that students should report to class Friday.
Hurt said overall the week has been "terrible" citing controversy Wednesday, (Watch WSFA 12 News report on that incident). She added that the school "is just a place where kids come to do what they want to do."
Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy said he and his department take every investigation seriously and that he understands why parents would want to check their children out. But he added, "Your children are safe in this school. Leave your children in this school..."
Murphy said the police department will have the protection in and around Lee High School that it needs, but "pulling the kids out of the school is not the solution."