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Superintendent and teachers discuss response to recent shooting and their thoughts on bullying

Rigby

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RIGBY — Concerns about two recent gun incidents at Rigby Middle School have sparked a lot of discussion among community members.

In the wake of the May 6 shooting in which a 13-year-old female student fired a gun inside the school, injuring two students and a custodian, many have wondered whether there were warning signs that administrators should have paid more attention to.

In a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com, Jefferson School District 251 Superintendent Chad Martin says teachers and administrators have spent many hours looking back at what happened that day and they’ve determined there’s very little that could’ve been done to prevent it.

“Hindsight is always 20/20 and you look back and you think, Ok, are there things we could have seen or should have seen?” Martin says. “There’s nothing that says, ‘Oh wow, that’s it!'”

The shooter, whose name and motive have never been publicly released, was taken into custody after the 5-minute ordeal. During a press conference in May, Jefferson County Prosecutor Mark Taylor said she could be charged with three counts of attempted murder, pending an investigation.

RELATED | School shooter could face attempted murder charges; doctor says condition of victims is an ‘absolute blessing’

There have been no further updates on the case since then.

On Sept. 23, just four months after the shooting, another emotionally distraught 13-year-old girl was taken into custody after a gun was found in her backpack. No shots were fired and no one was injured.

RELATED | Backpacks no longer allowed at secondary schools in Jefferson County School District

In response, the school district initially decided to ban backpacks at secondary schools. A week later, they changed the policy and decided to allow clear backpacks.

RELATED | Backpack policy in Jefferson County schools adjusted after further review

Martin says this decision was never intended to be an “end-all, fix-all” solution.

“We had a second incident and anxiety was high. We knew we had to do something,” says Martin. “It was very well-documented that the guns (in the previous incidents) were in a backpack. What we hoped it would do is help kids come back to school without the anxiety of, ‘what’s in the backpack sitting next to me?’ We also wanted to help relieve some anxiety for teachers, and at the same time provide some sense of security.”

Martin says they’re fully aware this doesn’t prevent a student from bringing a gun to school and they’re still discussing other security measures that can be taken.

Concerns about bullying in Rigby have been an ongoing conversation in the last four months. Several mothers have told us about instances where their son or daughter was called foul or vulgar names by other students. As they’ve told teachers and staff about it, they say no action was taken and they feel their concern was dismissed.

RELATED | Parents seeking solutions after second gun-related incident at Rigby Middle School

Martin says bullying is a problem at every school in America and Rigby’s bullying problem is no worse than any other community.

“I’ve worked in several school districts … and I can tell you that in every district I was in, the patrons … thought that was where the bullying was the worst,” Martin explains. “It’s a complex issue and it is an issue at Rigby Middle School … but the easy thing to do is to blame it on bullying. Bullying has not come up at all in the investigation.”

To those who feel teachers and administrators do not care about the problem and are unwilling to do anything about it, Martin says nothing could be further from the truth. They do support kids and want them to have a positive experience at school, but it’s important to keep things in perspective.

“We’ve had two incidents in 20 years,” Rigby Middle School Teacher David Crasper says. “Because the incidents were so close to each other, we forget about all the years we didn’t have incidences.”

Crasper says kids follow the example of the adults in their life. One of the greatest things a teacher or parent can do to prevent bullying is to simply be nice, he says.

WATCH THE FULL ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE.

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