ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Two days after a student was stabbed to death in an off-campus after school fight, Alexandria parents say they’re frustrated with a lack of communication from the district.
FOX 5’s David Kaplan spoke to some parents in the area who said, they just want to they just want to hear more from their leaders about what’s being done to keep kids safe.
"What I feel, uh, we need is to know, that our children are going to go to school and come home. All of our children. And we don’t know that in our country anymore, we don’t know that in our state anymore, we don’t know that in our city anymore. We don’t know that our children are safe at school," Alexandria parent Tricia Maher-Miller tells FOX 5.
FOX 5 made multiple attempts to reach Alexandria City Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, but were told he was not available. FOX 5 did, however, receive a statement from the Superintendent's office Thursday.
It reads in full:
"Dear ACPS Staff and Families,
As our leadership team at Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) reflects on the events of this week, we are keeping our students and staff foremost in mind as we process our loss here at home, as well as the tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Texas. The wellbeing and safety of the children and adults in our schools is of the utmost priority, and we extend our deepest sympathies to all who have lost a loved one.
ACPS has worked over the past several years to put in place various safety and security protocols in our schools. Some of these protocols include scheduled safety and active threat drills, security officer assignments at schools, access control technology on doors, security cameras, security vestibule installation projects and an updated visitor management system. Our Office of Safety and Security Services works closely with school administrators, security personnel and with the Alexandria Police Department (APD) to ensure that we follow the appropriate security measures to safeguard our students and staff. Safety and security measures are reviewed regularly, and specifically reviewed after serious incidents. I am frequently in communication with Alexandria Police Chief Don Hayes and Alexandria City Manager Jim Parajon as we address safety and security within our community.
APD currently has their officers conducting additional high-visibility patrols at various ACPS school zones, and we are grateful for this extra precaution, as well as their ongoing commitment and partnership in keeping our schools safe. Public safety requires the attention and effort of our entire community and the collaboration we have with APD is paramount to the safety of our students and schools.
We continue working at ACPS to ensure that supports are in place for any students, staff and families who need them. This outreach will be ongoing through the remainder of this school year to make supports accessible for those who seek counseling to address issues with trauma or resources on how to talk to children about these tragic events. We encourage families to reach out to your child’s school counselor, school nurse, school psychologist or school social worker if your child needs additional supports. ACPS staff who need more assistance may access the resources available through the employee assistance program.
Earlier this week, we shared messages with ACPS families and Alexandria City High School (ACHS) families, and we will continue to inform our community through the end of this school year. I have asked ACHS Executive Principal Peter Balas to please provide ACHS students and families with detailed information about new measures and procedures that will take effect at the high school when students return for in-person learning on Tues., May 31, 2022.
We know how caring and supportive the ACPS community is, and we value the efforts of staff and families in showing our students how much we care and are here for them."
FOX 5 also reached out to the School Board Chair Meagan Alderton, who said she had no comment but offered up that some public comments may happen at a regularly scheduled school board work session Thursday night.
The concerns from parents come after a stabbing at the Bradlee Center shopping center that left an 18-year-old dead on Tuesday. On Thursday, Alexandria City High School’s International Academy posted a picture of the victim, 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez.
Hernandez was set to graduate next month. A teacher described him as quiet but playful and with a great sense of humor.
In terms of communication about the incident, Alexandria City High School's Principal put something out to the school community confirming what happened and outlining safety procedures the rest of the school year.