By Kendyl Hollingsworth
For the Opelika Observer
Opelika City Schools and the Opelika Police Department are investigating two separate and unrelated matters of concern involving students at Opelika Middle School yesterday and this morning.
The first incident occurred at approximately 4:15 Wednesday afternoon as a student was exiting his school bus near his home. According to a press release, the student dropped an unloaded BB gun pistol out of his backpack, which the bus driver subsequently recovered and turned in to the OCS transportation director. OCS and OPD are investigating the incident, though no threats or planned action have been identified at this point.
OCS Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors said OPD was notified last night of the incident, and he believes it has been resolved.
The second incident was reported to OMS administrators at approximately 9 a.m. by a parent who said her son had received a series of threatening messages over social media the night before. OPD was notified immediately, though the messages were not directed at OMS, according to the press release.
“Anytime we have a threat—it doesn’t matter—we run it down with the police department, and our folks are very adept at checking into those things,” Neighbors said. “We make sure that the student who may have been involved in creating the problem is not being a victim or the perpetrator alone, and (we’re) making sure that we follow all those leads down that we just have kids making very poor decisions.”
Neighbors encouraged parents to confiscate their children’s phones if they are misusing them and to teach them to take toy guns as seriously as they would if they were real firearms.
“We’ve got to step up,” Neighbors said. “We need some help with that. All of us around the state and country need help with that.”
The OCS press release noted that OPD will be increasing patrols and will have an increased office presence at all OCS campuses “to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every student.”