A violent classroom attack on a 14-year-old student caught on video has drawn national attention and focused a spotlight on the question of whether there are adequate security measures in place in Guilford County Schools.
In the morning on Tuesday, May 25, a group of eight people, which included a 37-year-old parent and students from other schools, went into a classroom at Southern Guilford High School and attacked a young girl. The attack (depicted in the video frame above) is thought to have been precipitated by an earlier fight at a bus stop.
The video of the attack went viral. On Thursday, May 27, one source said that CBS News had contacted parents in Guilford County and asked about the video and the incident.
A group made up largely of concerned parents – called “Take Back Our Schools-GCS” – has been offering widespread complaints as to the way the Guilford County school system is being run. The group posted the fight video on Facebook and many visitors to the page were outraged by what they saw. The video can be seen here: Take Back Our Schools – GCS , or by going to the Take Back Our Schools – GCS Facebook page.
Take Back members say the fact that this type of event can occur – a large angry mob storming onto a campus and assaulting a young teen – makes it crystal clear that school safety in the Guilford County school system is nowhere near where it needs to be.
Cindy Hammer, one of the most active members of Take Back, said that one reason this week’s assault was so alarming to so many people is that the group of attackers shouldn’t even have been able to make it into the building.
Hammer said she had already pulled her son out of the Guilford County school system due to a great many concerns. She said a large number of those concerns revolve around the actions of Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras.
“My kid is in private school,” Hammer said.
She cited the apparent lack of adequate security as just one reason why she and many others have been dissatisfied with the way the school system is being run.
Hammer said Take Back was formed in large part because the majority of the Guilford County Board of Education has abandoned its duties and ceded all power to Contreras.
Take Back’s self-description lists safety as a primary area of concern. The group believes the county’s school system has been politicized and the group takes issue with a great number of recent actions taken by Contreras and the school board.
“We are a group of concerned Guilford County citizens who want to make our schools safe,” the group’s Facebook bio reads. “We want what is best for all students, teachers, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria staff, secretaries, guidance counselors, administrators, SRO’s and all other staff. A great education free of violence, harassment and racism. We also stand strong in the belief that Politics DO NOT belong in our schools.”
Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad said on Thursday, May 27 that, in response to the news of the fight and an inquiry that a concerned citizen made to him, he has been reexamining how the schools spent $10 million that the Guilford County Board of Commissioners allocated to the school system in 2018 for school security.
In a now-famous move, Conrad, in a commissioners work session in early 2018, made a motion out of the blue to provide the schools with $10 million in county funds to be used for school security. The motion passed and the county raised the money by selling “two-thirds bonds” that don’t require voter approval.
However, in the years that followed, the commissioners had multiple conversations with school officials about the use of those funds. Many commissioners in 2018 and 2019 complained that the schools were dragging their feet. The commissioners made the point that the funds were given to the schools to help beef up security quickly.
“It was exasperating,” Conrad said of the commissioners repeated attempts to get the schools to use the money on security.
He said the move was made in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people.
Some of the money the Board of Commissioners approved eventually went to carded access systems for some county schools. Some of the money is being spent to upgrade emergency communications capabilities and some has been used for HVAC system repairs as well as window repairs and replacements.
Hammer said that security is just one of many concerns that she and other members have had about the way Contreras is running the system.
She said that she’d like to see a day when things are sane enough in the Guilford County Schools for her to put her son back in the system.
“I do want my son to go back,” Hammer said.
But right now, it sounds like a lot will need to change before she feels it’s safe enough for that to happen.