News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Safety must have high
priority in our schools

While Attorney General Troy King was in Decatur on Wednesday to recognize city schools for their emphasis on security, Lawrence County authorities were arresting an eighth-grader for allegedly making terrorist threats against some of his classmates.

Both incidents are graphic reminders of the terrible things that continue to take place in our schools and that massacres don’t happen only in places such as Columbine, Colo.

Three of Decatur’s schools, Decatur High, Austin High and Oak Park Middle School, were among the eight schools statewide to win the Alabama Safe Schools Award for Excellence.

The alleged Lawrence County incident occurred at rural Speake School where a student alerted acting principal Heath Grimes.

“The student felt threatened at the dance and brought that information to Coach Grimes,” explained Superintendent Dexter Rutherford. “In questioning, he got bits and pieces and continued to investigate. It was a good job on his part being aware of red flags and things of that nature,” he said.

Authorities said they found no weapons but did find a diagram of the school auditorium and felt it could be evidence of a planned attack.

The youth is in The Tennessee Valley Detention Center pending a hearing today.

Decatur deserves congratulations for the safety awards, but not winning doesn’t necessarily mean other school officials are lagging.

Coach Grimes’ handling of the incident is an indication that Lawrence County school officials also take student safety seriously.

There was a time when a schoolyard threat meant a fistfight after school.

Today, many threats have more substance.

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