'Swept under the rug': Parents voice concerns after gun incident in March at Highland Local Schools

Highland Local Schools August 22nd Board of Education meeting
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MORROW COUNTY, Ohio (10TV) -- Some families are feeling betrayed by a central Ohio school district after an incident involving a child and a gun.

On March 8 before school hours, the Highland Local Schools transportation director left her gun unsecured and walked away. Her grandson, a first-grader, picked it up. A little girl was in the room with him. Fortunately, no one was physically harmed. The district eventually suspended the transportation director for three days without pay. However, parents said they were not made aware of the incident.

"It's not to say people aren't human and people can't make mistakes, but people can't make mistakes with guns around our kids. That's just not an option," said Jessica Moloney, parent.

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Resident Dennis Hoffman added, “She should’ve been terminated. She’s in charge of our kids’ safety on the buses. How can I trust it now?”

At the board of education meeting Thursday night, parents voiced their concerns after news spread recently about what happened. Many parents said they found out about the incident on social media and have questions.

“What the situation was, maybe how it really was handled, how severe it really was because we really don’t know. We’ve only heard it through the grapevine," said Monica Davis, parent.

Parents at the meeting questioned the school's safety plan put in place last year, allowing some administrators and staff (excluding teachers) to have a gun at school. Many parents said they were unaware the policy was put in place at all.

“There should’ve been more communication. That obviously fell through the cracks," said school board president Wayne Hinkle.

School board members would not go into detail about what happened citing they cannot discuss personnel issues. In addition, they were not able to provide specifics on the safety plan for security reasons. However, they assured the crowd those who have guns at school go through a vetting and training process. Still, they recognize this should not have happened.

"We’ve been grieving and praying how blessed we were that nothing serious took place," said board member Eric Thacker.

The public comment portion of the meeting ended without detailed next steps. The board said they would discuss both the communication issue and elements of the safety plan.

"It's bad something had to happen for us to get kicked in the butt, kicked in the head, to realize that," Hinkle said. "I can tell you this, it will be taken care of."

Some people told the board they no longer trust them and worry about transparency moving forward.

“I am mad as hell because I love this district, went to this district, and it is tarnished," said Hoffman. “Right now, my trust in my school board is out the window."

The first day of school is Sept. 3.