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Opelousas Junior High addresses safety issues

Posted at 10:56 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 00:01:51-05

Administrators at Opelousas Junior High are calling on the community to help transform culture on campus.

Last month, there were two arrests on campus for students with weapons.

During a town-hall style safety meeting, students, parents and staff spoke freely about the challenges they're facing on campus and their vision to move Opelousas Junior High forward.

Principal Dr. Monica Fabre said, "Change will not come if we pretend and hide and say things are not happening."

Before the meeting, the OJH community was surveyed and ranked issues on campus.

222 students responded. 196 said guns and weapons on campus is the school's biggest safety issue, followed by bullying and violence on campus.

"I'm proud of them for standing up and speaking their mind about how they feel about things around here. They should be heard to, not just the parents," said concerned parent Mary Pipkins.

Fabre said, "You cannot be afraid from it. You have to address it...guns, knifes, you have to address it head on, don't run from it."

Fabre is candid about the issues her school is facing. She's hopeful having tough conversations with the school community will inspire change.

"The children said it. Hear me. Teach me. They talked to their own peers and said, let me learn," Fabre said.

The issues caught the attention of police and the school board.

"We not trying to fix Opelousas Junior High. We're trying to fix the world because all of these problems are the world's problems," said Major Mark Guidry of the Opelousas Police Department.

School Board Member Anthony Standberry said, "If putting metal detectors in is what we need, we have to do what we have to do in order to make our school system run the way it's supposed to."

The next step is the principal is planning a private meeting with parents and staff.