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Group wants metal detectors at MHS in response to threats

When Brandie Miles was a high school student back in Waldorf, Md., she passed through a metal detector every day on her way to class.

She didn’t think anything of it, she said. It was the neighborhood.

After all, she said, her hometown of 75,000 isn’t necessarily the safest place in southern Maryland.

Plus, it’s only around 45 minutes from Washington, D.C., which doesn’t score points for urban safety, either.

“What’s wrong with taking precautions to keep kids safe?” she asked. “Because you never really know what’s going to happen.”

She’s referring to the deadly shootings two weeks ago in a high school in suburban Detroit. A 15-year-old will be tried as an adult in that case.

Police and witnesses said the freshman fatally gunned down four classmates while wounding six others, including a teacher.

Now, the parents of Ethan Crumbley are facing criminal charges of manslaughter as well, after prosecutors said they didn’t do enough – or anything, really – to help their son who they deemed to be emotionally troubled.

The gun allegedly used was said to be an early Christmas present.

Meanwhile, additional charges, those same prosecutors say, may also be forthcoming against the administration of Oxford High School, which allowed him to return to class after a brief counseling session.

A teacher became concerned after seeing the student’s drawings depicting murders by guns, but Crumbley, who had never been in trouble, said the sketches were part of a video game he wanted to design.

Miles, who now lives in Morgantown and whose daughter, Julianna Pegley, is a 14-year-old freshman at Morgantown High School, became increasingly uneasy at news accounts of the assault in Michigan.

It didn’t help at MHS, were two threats of violence, in the form of graffiti on the walls of two boys’ bathrooms, were spied last week.

The author, or authors, proclaimed “I’m-a shoot up the school,” in both entries.

Both the administration of MHS and district office responded immediately.

Surveillance video was pulled, extra Morgantown police patrols were dispatched and the sprawling school on Wilson Avenue was placed indefinitely on a “modified lockdown,” which limits hallway traffic and requires that classroom doors be bolted at all times.

All the above was done even as police said the scrawls on the wall weren’t credible threats.  

Protest at BOE office on
South High street are
Anna Butche, Ping Yun Ci,
Brendie Miles, Julianna Pegley,
and Edith King.

‘I’m a little nervous’

Miles, who spoke at the Monongalia County Board of Education meeting this past Tuesday, wondered aloud if those measures were enough, though.

Kids locked in a classroom, she said, won’t be helped, or saved, if one of their own has smuggled a weapon in with his backpack.

At the very least, she said, she’d like to see the school district install metal detectors in its schools while enacting a clear backpack policy.

That’s why she was across the street from the district’s offices Friday afternoon on South High Street.

School shootings, with their wrenching regularity, she said, are now part of America’s neighborhood.

She and Julianna, and a handful of others, came out for a mini-rally she organized that day.   

They carried signs with messages such as, “Ignoring Warnings can lead to Mournings,” while waving at passing cars.

When a Safe Schools entrance was reconfigured at MHS a few years back, space was engineered to allow for the positioning of metal detectors.

Christmas break, she said, would be “a great, convenient time” for such a project.

“I didn’t expect a big turnout today,” she said. “I just wanted the board to know we’re serious. If nothing happens, I’ll take to Instagram and YouTube like the kids do.”

Her kid, meanwhile, just wants something done.

“I’m a little nervous,” Julianna said. “I’d like to see metal detectors put in.”

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