The Salem Schools Administration is reviewing policies after a 4th grader brought a large knife to Bradie M. Shrum Elementary School on March 9, according to Board Attorney Tom Scifres.
In a statement released today, Scifres wrote:
“We are grateful for the quick action of everyone involved in identifying, reporting, and isolating the threat. This includes our school officials who acted immediately and responsibly to remove the child and the weapon from the classroom, swiftly eliminating any threat of harm to students.
“Based on concerns raised by this incident, the school will be reviewing [its] school policies in this area and further evaluating school safety. This process will take some time, but we intend to start immediately.”
The board met in regular session on Monday, April 10 when several concerned parents spoke directly to the board and school superintendent Dr. Richard Rutherford.
Here is a link to the live recording of the board meeting — https://fb.watch/jU7hMEjaw-/?mibextid=kdkkhi
Parents praised Bradie Shrum Elementary Principal Kelly Williams and her team for her handling of the situation but were critical of Rutherford for his actions and comments.
Brandi Bierly said she found out the next day. “Do you know when the school called me? The next day. That phone call should have happened that day. Why did it take so many parents making phone calls for the [school corporation] to take this seriously? Why is there nothing in the elementary school handbook about weapons?”
One parent said the communication was not there and that he only found out when his 10-year-old son called him and said that another student had brought a knife to school.
Jill Gettlefinger said she was thankful the matter didn’t end in a horrible situation for the staff and students.
“I want to know why this event was handled so differently. The other potential threats that occurred during the same school year under the same administration where written communication was sent out either real-time or same day. We’re here a month later with no formal communication about this event,” Gettlefinger said.
“There is no justification from Superintendent Rutherford for ordering his administration to not send out formal communication to every parent in this corporation,” she said during the meeting. “By not notifying these parents, he has overstepped his authority.”
Hillary Wilder said she spoke with Dr. Rutherford and he told her “We’re country folk. we all have knives. we all have guns. I didn’t think it was a problem. I didn’t think it was an issue. I didn’t want to cause unnecessary panic for parents.”
Rutherford didn’t respond directly to those comments during the board meeting but said that every situation was a learning experience.
Some board members didn’t find out until the first week of April.