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School board members say PRP pellet gun incident highlights need for security at JCPS

The school went into lockdown Wednesday after witnesses reported seeing a gun during a fight between four students. One student has been charged.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Parents and students are still trying to wrap their minds around what happened after a fight and report of a gun shut down Louisville's Pleasure Ridge Park High School Wednesday morning.

Around 10:30 a.m., a spokesperson for Jefferson County Public Schools said a fight broke out in the building and witnesses thought they saw a gun. The school went into lockdown, ceasing all normal operations as officials searched the building and campus.

Security and police officers eventually found a pellet gun in a trash can outside. The district said the student responsible for bringing the gun was identified and charged with bringing a weapon onto school grounds.

However, parents weren’t told about the situation until after the searches were complete and the building was cleared, just after noon. During that hour and a half, students were sharing videos of the fight and what they knew about the lockdown through texts and social media.

RELATED: JCPS: Weapon found at PRP was pellet gun that appeared to be real gun

Those videos gave parents like Melanie Marville a glimpse of what was happening at her son’s school – but they didn’t tell the whole story.

“Really, all I wanted to know was, is everybody okay?” Marville said.

Everybody was, according to the school district. JCPS Chief Communications Officer Renee Murphy told families Wednesday afternoon that no injuries had been reported and the building was secure.

Despite this assurance, members of the school board said the incident highlighted the need for more security.

“We have to have a way to meet this kind of threat,” said board member Linda Duncan.

JCPS cut ties with their school resource officers (SROs) in 2019, who were contracted through different police agencies across Louisville. In 2020, Kentucky legislators passed a law requiring all officers placed inside schools to be armed - but that new law didn’t provide any funding.

Meanwhile, the district decided on a plan to create its own security force with 19 officers specifically trained in things like de-escalation tactics and diversity awareness. However, they haven’t been able to implement that plan, partially because of the pandemic.

The Jefferson County Board of Education has discussed the issue of SROs for the past two years, but the members have yet to come to a decision.

As they wait for that change to come, parents and students are focused on the next day of school.

“He has no worries about going back to school tomorrow,” Marville said of her son. When asked whether she had concerns about her son’s safety, she said she had mixed feelings.

“I do, just because, as a mom, he is out of my sight. I think that’s just a natural thing. But, I don’t because I feel the school did a really good job at keeping the kids safe,” she said.

While Marville wished she had known more about Wednesday’s incident sooner, at the end of the day, she was just happy to still be sitting next to her son.

Contact reporter Tom Lally at tlally@whas11.com. Follow him on Twitter (@tomlallyky) and Facebook.

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