ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two days after a student was stabbed to death in an off-campus fight after school, parents in Alexandria say they are frustrated with the district’s lack of communication.
FOX 5’s David Kaplan spoke to area parents who said they just wanted to hear more from their leaders about what is being done to keep kids safe.
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“What I feel, uh, we need to know, that our kids are going to go to school and go home. All of our kids. And we don’t know that in our country anymore, we don’t know that in our state, we don’t know that in our town anymore. We don’t know that our kids are safe in school,” Alexandria parent Tricia Maher-Miller told FOX 5.
FOX 5 made several attempts to reach Alexandria City Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, but was told he was unavailable. FOX 5 did, however, receive a statement from the superintendent’s office on Thursday.
It reads in full:
“Dear CSPA staff and families,
As our Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) leadership team reflects on the events of this week, we keep our students and staff in mind as we process our loss here at home, as well as the tragedy of Robb Elementary School in Texas. The well-being and safety of children and adults in our schools is of the highest priority, and we extend our deepest condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one.
ACPS has worked over the past few years to implement various safety and security protocols in our schools. Some of these protocols include scheduled security and active threat drills, school security guard assignments, door access control technology, security cameras, security vestibule installation projects and an updated visitor management system. Our Office of Safety and Security Services works closely with school administrators, security personnel and with the Alexandria Police Department (APD) to ensure that we follow proper safety measures to protect our students. and our staff. Safety and security measures are reviewed regularly, and in particular reviewed after serious incidents. I am in frequent communication with Alexandria Police Chief Don Hayes and Alexandria City Manager Jim Parajon as we address safety within our community.
APD currently has its officers conducting additional high-visibility patrols in various ACPS school zones, and we are grateful for this extra precaution, and for their continued commitment and partnership in keeping our schools safe. Public safety requires the attention and efforts of our entire community and the collaboration we have with APD is paramount to the safety of our students and our schools.
We continue to work at CSPA to ensure supports are in place for all students, staff and families who need them. This outreach will continue for the remainder of this school year to make supports available to those looking for guidance on dealing with trauma issues or resources on how to talk to children about these tragic events. We encourage families to contact your child’s school counselor, school nurse, school psychologist or school social worker if your child needs additional support. CSPA staff who need more help can access resources available through the Employee Assistance Program.
Earlier this week, we shared messages with CSPA families and Alexandria City High School (ACHS) families, and we will continue to update our community through the end of this school year. I have asked CAHS Executive Director Peter Balas to please provide CAHS students and families with detailed information on the new measures and procedures that will come into effect at High School when students return for an apprenticeship. in person on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.
We know how caring and supportive the CSPA community is, and we appreciate the efforts of staff and families to show our students how much we care and are there for them.”
RELATED: 18-year-old killed, minor gunned down in same Alexandria neighborhood following separate fights
FOX 5 also reached out to school board president Meagan Alderton, who said she had no comment, but said some public comment could take place during a regular school board business meeting Thursday night.
Parents’ concerns come after a stabbing at the Bradlee Center mall that left an 18-year-old dead on Tuesday. On Thursday, the Alexandria City International High School Academy released a photo of the victim, 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez.
Hernandez was due to graduate next month. A teacher described him as calm but cheerful and with a great sense of humor.
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In terms of communicating the incident, the principal of Alexandria City High School released something to the school community confirming what happened and outlining safety procedures for the remainder of the school year.