Violence prompts lockdown through end of school year
Jennifer Edwards Baker and Ally Marotti, The Cincinnati Enquirer 10:50 p.m. EDT May 16, 2014
CINCINNATI -- A rash of daytime violence around a local elementary school has prompted a lockdown through the end of the school year and has some worried the school may permanently close.
Officials Lincoln Heights Elementary School at sent a letter home to parents this week explaining the decision. The lockdown began Wednesday after a school board decision Monday night. The school year ends June 2.
It came about a week after two people were shot nearby on a nearby street corner. That mid-morning gunfire occurred just a few months after a random bullet soared into the back window of an empty school bus at a middle school stop, lodging in the front of the bus next to the driver's head, said Princeton City Schools Superintendent Gary Pack.
In August, right after the school year began, a young child was shot inside a vehicle, he said.
"We feel that it is necessary due to the continued random shootings in the neighborhood and the fact that bullets don't have eyes," Pack said. "Those are continuing to happen in the village, and they are happening during the day when school is in session."
The lockdown eliminates recess and extracurricular activities for the school's 200 students in preschool through fifth grade. Visitors must be buzzed in at the main entrance.
"We must ensure the safety and security of all students, visitors and staff," the school's principal wrote in the letter to parents. "Please be aware that the violent acts within the community are random, and still occurring with some frequency."
District officials have asked Lincoln Heights village leaders to step up patrols around the school and supply a school resource officer to walk the halls. If that is not approved, the school district plans to ask the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office to do it.
"We are trying to do our best to finish the school year and keep folks as safe as we can under the circumstances," Pack said, adding that the school's 20 staff members also have expressed concern for their safety as they drive in and out of the village.
Lincoln Heights Police Chief Conroy Chance declined an interview request from The Enquirer and referred questions to Village Manager Stephanie Summerow Dumas. She said school officials are unhappy with the time it takes officers to notify them of nearby shootings.
Parents and community members attended a meeting Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Heights Municipal Building to discuss the situation. One possible solution discussed was to shut the school down all together and distribute the kids among neighboring elementary schools, but residents do not consider this a valid option.
"They're getting ready to sign petitions and let the board members know they don't want the school closed," Dumas said.
Neema Coleman attended Lincoln Heights Elementary School and has two children who attend it now. She walks her kids to school every day and does not want them to have to leave the community for school.
"They've been talking about closing Lincoln Heights for two or three years now," she said Friday. "It started in a little ball, and now it's just erupted."http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/05/16/violence-prompts-lockdown-through-end-of-school-year/9202871/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+usatoday-NewsTopStories+%28USATODAY+-+News+Top+Stories%29