A 10-year-old male student caused an evacuation of Appanoose Elementary School Monday morning and prompted a response by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. The student, whose name was not released by school officials, discharged a fire extinguisher in the hallway, Dotson Bradbury, West Franklin school district superintendent, said.
“A student created a situation when that student took a fire extinguisher that was in the hallway, as it should be, and discharged that extinguisher in an area of the building,” Bradbury said. “As a result of that, the principal initiated a fire drill in order to get students out of the building, because when that extinguisher is first discharged there is a bad smell and so on.”
The fire extinguisher chemical was sprayed over more than 6,000 square feet of floor and wall space, and an outside agency had to be called in to clean up the mess, Bradbury said.
The cause of the student’s outburst was not known. Bradbury would not comment on whether there was more involved in the incident than just the fire extinguisher being discharged. The elementary school’s principal, Cathy Brandt, did not return The Herald’s requests for comment.
Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the school at 600 Shawnee Road, north of Pomona, to assist the staff with the unruly student, Bradbury said.
“The student was not cooperative, so law enforcement was called,” Bradbury said. “They came [and] assisted with intervening with that student.”
The student was held by a sheriff’s deputy in front of the school until his parent came to remove him from campus, Bradbury said. That’s where the school made a mistake, Pamela Parsons, the student’s mother, said. She said the school’s and deputy’s actions could lead to her son being ridiculed by his peers.
“They should have taken the other students out of a different door, so they didn’t have to sit there and stare at my son,” she said.
Each incident the sheriff’s office responds to is treated with a certain amount of discretion, Jerrod Fredricks, master deputy of the sheriff’s office, said. However, there could have been another reason the deputy chose to hold the student in that location, he said.
“In every case, we do want to be discrete, but we’re going to err on the side of caution and the safety of the officer and public, rather than being discrete,” Fredricks said. “We would prefer to be discrete at all costs, but the other is more important.”
It is not the first time the sheriff’s office has been called to the school, Parsons said. Last year, her son walked away from the school and had to be picked up on the road leading away from the school by sheriff’s deputies. After that incident, Parsons said, the school should have been aware of her son’s behavioral issues.
“My son’s got tons of behavior problems, and they know this,” she said. “It’s on his IEP [individualized education program], but they don’t have the training to deal with it.”
Parsons said she is not sure yet whether she will allow her son to return to Appanoose school. She said she might move him to a different school district after Monday’s incident. The school, however, has procedures in place to keep Parsons’ son from being bullied, Bradbury said, if Parsons’ son chooses to return.
“We have a very strong anti-bullying program in place,” Bradbury said. “Certainly any time there is a student incident of any nature, our efforts are redoubled to make sure that there are no consequences and that [bullying] isn’t allowed to occur.”
Bradbury would not comment Monday on whether any disciplinary action would be taken against the student as a result of the incident, noting student discipline is a confidential matter.