Bunn, NC - School Security - A classic case of 'shoot the messenger'
By: Steve Trubilla
Some stories are more important than others; I feel this is one of them.
On Sept. 16, 2014, an intruder, 25-year-old Arron Eugene Cummings, was found in the Bunn North Carolina High School by a student or students.
While there is a Bunn police officer, Timothy J. Trader, at the school, he was not aware of the intruder. Reports vary as to how long Cummings was physically in the school and the nature of what all his contacts with students or staff were. Cummings was arrested for trespassing.
This will be the first in what may be a series of columns concerning the security of schools in Franklin County. The continuation of the series will be based on your interest.
Attention was brought by concerned parents having children attending Bunn High School that they were not safe at school. It is important to note while the occurrence of a single event placed the spotlight on Bunn High School, the scope of this transcends any one school.
I have, and will endeavor to remain objective and open minded as I bring this story to you. I will, however, avoid political correctness to spare individual feelings. The subject is too important.
Some of the people I have talked to on this are clearly more interested in protecting their own rice bowl, little kingdoms, and doing damage control for the school and school officials than they are in school security.
I have been told teachers, school administrators, and law enforcement have been asking for money to address school security for better than 10 years, and that the school board and county commissioners know about the issues and problems. Time and time again, I am told promises are made and the funding never comes.
Additionally, I have been made aware of many other news stories written pointing to serious security deficiencies. Parent and voter apathy also are factors. In spite of the known risks, the majority appear unwilling to act, even when their own children's safety is at risk.
Many can say they are unaware of such things, and to a point I understand this. There is a given expectation that your children are safe when they are in school. Once upon a time this was true, but not so much, now.
If you believe the terrible cannot happen here, you are wrong. You are deadly wrong. What parent at Sandy Hook, Columbine, and so many other schools ever thought they would live their nightmare?
After-action reports on so many school tragedies show there were known security deficiencies that were, for this reason or that, not addressed.
The purpose of this column is not to instill fear, or to turn our schools into fortresses. The ideal outcome would be to see our entire community come together and fix the easy things first, and then work on the harder things. Not tomorrow, but right now!
Franklin County needs a leader in this effort, and right now we do not have one.
Not a stuffed shirt or person chasing political favor, someone the county commissioners will listen to. This is a tall order.
Commissioners control the purse strings. Without the money and the resolve of everyone, nothing is going to change.
I am sharing this as an attention getter. Unless it has dramatically changed in the last few days, a stranger can still enter Bunn High School during school hours, walk the halls, and gain access to students, and staff. They will go undetected.
How do I know this? A parent contacted me and told me so. I had trouble believing it was true. I made an appointment to meet the school information officer, Patrick Glace, and went to the school to share what parents were telling me.
I parked my car in the parking lot and went to the door closest to me, opened it and proceeded to the office. No one challenged me. I stopped for a moment to speak with two teachers.
I did this just a little more than a week after Arron Eugene Cummings had entered the school. Nothing had changed!
I was told there is a sign instructing people to use another door, and in hindsight I probably should have noted it.
I was just so surprised that what I had been told about how easy it was for someone to enter the school was true, I wanted to really point it out.
Also note that I had actually seen a student use the same door. Upon leaving the school I did verify there is a sign on the door instructing people to use anther door.
More attention getters: There are cameras in the school, a number of them do not work. Many that do are not being monitored. I have been told this is because the school is short of staff.
Students prop open exterior doors to move about the school as a matter of routine.
All exterior doors do not have locking devices that close and secure the door. I am told this is the case because money is not available to purchase them.
I tried my best to get Patrick Glace to listen to my concerns about the easy access to the school, and the concerns parents has shared with me. To be brutally honest, I do not think he listened to a word I said. He went on and on about district school policy. I asked him pointedly if he has a personal opinion on anything I had to say. He clearly said no.
I wanted to speak with the principal to share the concerns.
That did not happen; she was livid with me because I used the wrong door to enter the school. Pray that soon, someone starts to listen.
This was classic "shoot the messenger."