Parents, staff react after gun-related incident interrupts recess at Atlanta school

Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Two gun-related incidents in one week at an Atlanta school have prompted parents and school administrators to speak out.

Wesley International Academy received reports of a person with an assault-style weapon on the street next to the school’s playground during kindergarten recess Tuesday. School resource officers acted quickly to ensure all children were safe.

The incident occurred four days after a police chase ended with guns drawn in the school’s parking lot.

Parents, like Latandra Johnson with a godson at the school, said she prays daily for children across Atlanta.

“Gunshots can ring out anywhere. You know people are irresponsible,” said Johnson.

Jason Marshall, Executive Director at Wesley International Academy, said a new state policy plays a role in these types of incidents: Georgia’s new constitutional carry act.

While firearms are prohibited from school safety zones, Marshall said the legislation creates “an unfortunate, if unintended impact on Georgia’s school children and educators.”

“Laws like those enacted by Senate Bill 319 make it more difficult to protect the children and staff in our schools because they embolden people to access and carry weapons without limiting their ability to carry deadly weapons near places where children gather,” explained Marshall.

Some parents shared similar concerns.

“It’s the way the world we live in today – it’s not a safe place, especially with the state of Georgia opening up to be able to carry guns without proper training,” said Johnson.

Carrying a firearm in school safety zones is not legal under Georgia law, even under the state’s constitutional carry law. When the legislation was passed in April, Governor Brian Kemp said law-abiding Georgians deserve to ensure they can protect themselves and their families.

Parents and school administrators emphasized gun safety around schools is a problem across the metro – not just at Wesley International Academy.

Aaliyah Strong, a mother at the school, said she had heard from other parents who shared frustrations.

“It’s every school in Atlanta. We need to take security more seriously,” said Strong.

Strong advocated for improved security measures in schools, better training for administrators and officials on campus, and more counselors who are attentive to students.

“Children don’t have the capacity to express themselves the way we can,” she explained. “I really want principals, police men in schools, parents – everyone needs to work together collectively so everyone can be OK.”

Strong also said parents should be mindful about how they communicate with their children; whether asking about their day or sharing tough conversations about gun violence.

“I make it my point as a mom to ask, ‘how was school today? Did anything happen to scare you?’’ she said.