DAHLONEGA, Ga. – “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
Parents and students say that memorable line from the 1960s movie Cool Hand Luke fits the Lumpkin County School Board and Superintendent Dr. Robert Brown like a glove.
Angry parents and students launched a scathing social media attack on the school system’s administration last week, saying it failed to warn them about an alleged threat against the high school. Most said they were completely in the dark until their children told them about after school.
A Lumpkin County High School student reported to administrators on the morning of Thursday (Sept. 20) that he overheard another student threaten to harm the school. But parents say no robo call was issued and nothing was posted on the school system’s Facebook page until many hours later.
When the school system finally did issue a press release, the message was factually inaccurate and extremely condescending.
Here is what the school system posted on its Facebook:
“Today a Lumpkin County High School student alleged that another LCHS student made a threat to harm the school. Law enforcement and school administrators took swift action to isolate the student in question and to conduct a thorough investigation.
“Conclusion: There is no evidence that a threat was ever made. Rumors perpetuated on social media have caused concern in our community, so we wanted to share the facts.”
That conclusion is simply not true. Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard said his office was not informed about the alleged threat until he began getting calls from parents Thursday evening and he had not started an investigation until the next day.
Parents argue the school system’s assertion that “Rumors perpetuated on social media have caused concern in our community” is condescending and an attempt to silence their legitimate complaints.
A greater concern, they say, is a school superintendent and school board that refuses to listen to their complaints or take them seriously. Some have cited the school board’s failure to attend its own public hearing on the tax increase last month as evidence their elected school board members are not listening.
Here is what angry parents and students said about the school system’s failure to warn them of a potential threat:
Makayla Cantrell posted this. “As a student at Lumpkin County High School, I feel like this situation is not being handled seriously. Me and a few of my friends brought it to administrators’ attention and some said, ‘He seems too nice to do something like that.’ I told another administrator I was scared and didn’t feel safe because what if this actually happens and I was told, ‘Oh yeah what if the sun don’t come up in the morning.’ This makes me feel like they are just brushing it off their shoulder and making it out as we as students are making a huge deal out of it. Which I think it is a pretty big deal because things like this actually happen. It also makes students not want to tell administrators because things aren’t being taken seriously. Parents should have been informed as soon as they heard about it. All they are worried about is drugs and vapes and not realizing what kind of threats are being made and what kind of environment they have us in. I really don’t feel safe at school with these kinds of threats being made. Social media is blowing up with it because students are looking out for fellow classmates because no one was being informed with anything and we have the right to know what is going on in our school environment. (Punctuation corrected).”
Marissa Dustin Allen posted this. “Threats were made on a student’s life last year in the form of text messages from one student to another and when it was brought to the LCHS Principal’s attention, he laughed and joked about it as if nothing happened. Completely swept under the rug. Just like a bunch of other stuff that has happened within the past year. Doesn’t look like anything is changing anytime soon.”
Axa Spencer posted this. “Parents should not have found out through Facebook or our kids at 10 at night when this happened at around 11to 12 lunch yesterday. The school needs a system for communications with parents not Facebook. It creates mass panic that way. What next, we see it on TV before we know? It’s just not fair and it’s not right. Parents, we need to expect timely answers about what’s happening and let the parent make the decision what they want to do with their child. (Punctuation corrected).”
Joey n McKinzey posted this. “This is nothing to play with. The school should have done an all call today when they found out so us parents could be informed.”
Superintendent Dr. Robert Brown is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the schools. It would be easy to lay the blame for this failure to communicate at his doorstep alone. However, the buck does not stop there. Brown serves at the pleasure of the school board and board members are elected by the people. If the people’s anger persists into the next election, there could be a number of changes in the board’s makeup.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com