Belle Place Middle School students hold town hall to address gun violence

Posted at 6:58 PM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 19:58:41-04

Belle Place Middle School 7th & 8th graders are asking tough questions about gun violence in schools.

On Thursday, a group of students at the school asked a panel of school administrators questions about they were doing to prevent gun violence.

"We should not want our schools to become prisons. Schools are supposed to be schools and you have to maintain that delicate balance,” explained Superintendent of Iberia Parish School Carey Laviolette.  

"As I heard earlier that you said we do have school resource officers, and I was wondering if there were any plans to add more,” asked one 8th Grader.

"Beginning July 1st we will begin to reinstate the New Iberia Police. So, we’ve also been in conversation with the mayor and new chief of police to expand the presence of school resource officers in our schools,” explained Laviolette.  

"Why are students with so many behavioral issues given so many chances, and are allowed to return to school,” asked 7TH grader Kelsey Johnson.

"Are there some students that I’d like to get rid of right off the bat? Yes! But, unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. They’re given due process, and we try to follow that to the letter of the law,” replied BPMS Principal Curtis Coquat.

Other discussions included the districts work installing metal detectors, reconfiguring front offices so there are only one entrance and surveillance cameras in all schools.

The school administrators say the millions they have already been spent on security have proven to be effective in apprehending students who are suspected of making threats.

"We had one yesterday at Loreauville High School. It was posted on Instagram in the wee hours of the morning and by 8:30 am the young lady who posted the threat on Instagram was in the Sheriff’s office,” said Laviolette.  

Another student asked if the administrators think teachers should be afforded the opportunity to arm themselves at school.

"I handle a lot of guns and I have guns. I would be leaning toward it, but I believe they would have to go through a very vigorous training program,” said one administrator.

"When we went to school to become school teachers, that’s not part of the training. I didn’t go through any gun safety courses. I wasn’t trained to use a weapon. So, we would have to rethink the entire teacher education program,” said Laviolette.