NewsLEX 18 In-Depth


Student bringing gun to school raises questions about school safety

Henry Clay
Posted at 7:08 PM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 19:13:21-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As more information starts to trickle in about what happened during a lockdown at Henry Clay High School, some students and parents are raising questions about how a gun got into the building in the first place.

On any given day, as many as 2,000 students at Henry Clay go through the same process before they can even step foot in their classrooms. Students enter through the same door and undergo a brief security check-in.

"There's all the metal detectors — there's about 8 of them. So, you get in the line and then you unzip your backpack, and then you set them on a table. You have to take all your keys and electronics off of you then you walk through the detector and they open your bag — like open the pockets and look through it," said student Kaitlin Stallons.

It is supposed to be a thorough process that happens at each of Fayette County Public Schools' high schools, operated by security ambassadors.

It's just one step in a 10-point safety plan the district created 5 years ago.

On Thursday, a 15-year-old was arrested and charged with possession of a loaded gun.

Some students and parents are wondering how they got the gun inside.

"While we were in lockdown, we were whispering to each other like how this is happening," said student Eshan Chanchal.

Students told LEX 18 on Thursday that each security ambassador checks bags with different levels of intensity.

"Some people — they'll just look through one of the zips, feel... then they'll just pass it on and I'm like 'why they're not checking that good,'" said Chanchal.

Stallons experienced the same.

"I feel like some of them search the bags pretty well and then other ones look at them and they don't really care. Like they'll just open one pocket," she said.

LEX 18 talked to Jon Akers, Executive Director at Kentucky Center for School Safety, just days before the incident at Henry Clay.

Akers says only around 2.96% or 40 of 1,350 schools in the state use metal detectors on a daily basis.

"I can tell you that historically, schools that have had metal detection, usually in about four or five years, don't do anymore. The reason being is because, you know, they realize that it can be — kids can find go rounds on those to get whatever they want into a building," said Akers.

He feels that building relationships is more effective for safety and violence prevention. Akers says schools have had success when students and staff speak up.

It's how a 17-year-old was found with a gun and arrested at Whitley County High School just over a week ago.

"It's important for me as an educator to give that same message out to the people who are out there in the schools today... continue on trying to strengthen those relationships," said Akers.

It is again what Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent is crediting helped them keep the campus safe on Thursday.

"We have established a culture where our students actually feel comfortable going to staff and understand the importance of immediately reporting something when they see something or when they've heard something," said Demetrus Liggins.

Understanding the situation could have been much worse, the 'how' is still a question some students are hoping to get answers on soon.

"With all the shootings that are going around the world and the country... I'm like, I think it's gonna happen more often now," said Chanchal.