Schools issue alerts over safety concerns
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
December 19, 2012 11:55 PM | 2236 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With last Friday’s school massacre in Connecticut still fresh in the minds of many, two Cherokee County School District schools faced security issues Wednesday, but both were quickly resolved and found to be unsubstantiated.

The incidents occurred at Mountain Road Elementary School and Freedom Middle School and letters were sent home Wednesday to parents of students attending both schools.

A code red alert at Mountain Road was quickly resolved Wednesday morning as it was determined no threat was present at the school, according to police.

At Freedom Middle School, administrative officials investigated rumors regarding a potential threat of weapons they became aware of prior to the start of school Wednesday.

Freedom Principal Karen Hawley said measures were taken to ensure the safety of students and staff and through interviews with students, teachers and adults, no actual threat was verified.

In the letter to Freedom parents and guardians, Hawley asked adults to remind students it is imperative to share any safety concerns with their teacher or school staff.

“Freedom Middle School is a very strong school and we cannot allow this type of incident to diminish the efforts of everyone involved in making it a high-achieving school,” Hawley wrote.

A letter sent home with Mountain Road students Wednesday by Mountain Road Principal Tammy Sandell said at about 6:50 a.m. the school’s administrative team activated a code red alert in response to the sight of a man believed to be carrying a weapon in general proximity to the school.

Lt. Jay Baker, spokesman with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, said someone reported to authorities they saw a man wearing camouflage carrying a gun.

Baker said the man, who was bow hunting on a nearby property about half a mile from the school, was quickly located and identified and was determined to have no firearms on his person.

“After last week’s incident, we didn’t want to take any chances but it was resolved very quickly,” Baker said.

As the school-issued alert went into effect during morning arrival time, buses en route to the school were diverted to a nearby high school, according to the letter.

“We were able to assess the situation in a relatively quick manner and determine there was no threat to our students and staff,” Sandell wrote.

Sandell said students and staff returned to the school at 7:30 a.m. and resumed normal activities.

“Our teachers and staff are to be commended on the excellent job they did ensuring the safety of our students today, as our local school safety and security plan was effectively implemented in this situation,” Sandell said.

Sandell thanked the sheriff’s office and Cherokee County School District Police Department for their assistance. Further questions and concerns regarding either incident may be directed to Sandell at (770) 664-9708 or tammy.sandell@cherokee.k12.ga.us, or to Hawley at (770) 345-4100 or karen.hawley@cherokee.k12.ga.us.
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