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JCPS board criticized for having security guards at meetings — not at schools

JCPS eliminated school resource officers prior to the COVID pandemic and created a security...
JCPS eliminated school resource officers prior to the COVID pandemic and created a security force instead. It's a roaming group of personnel who are tasked with responding to safety incidents at schools.(Pixabay)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 8:13 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:27 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Jefferson County Public Schools cafeteria employee who stood up to an armed suspect at Greenwood Elementary, told the Board of Education members they are placing children’s lives at risk by not having security officers at schools.

“You want to talk about masks, you want to talk about what to teach them,” she said. “If we can’t keep them safe when they are in that building, why do they need to wear a mask?”

The Greenwood cafeteria worker said she was working in the lunchroom last March when, according to reports, an armed, irate parent showed up at the school demanding they hand over his child at gunpoint. The man, later identified as Patrick Wesley, allegedly walked to the outside of the school’s cafeteria, and pointed a gun through the window.

That’s when she said she stepped in.

“Our staff had to fight him off out of a kitchen window,” she said. “We had no security. Nothing. Us teachers, employees, cafeteria employees — they are trained to cook, not to save innocent children’s lives.”

JCPS eliminated school resource officers prior to the COVID pandemic and created a security force instead. It’s a roaming group of personnel who are tasked with responding to safety incidents at schools. Most of those security members are former law enforcement officers. However, they are not allowed to be armed.

An LMPD officer familiar with the Greenwood Elementary case said in that scenario, police were immediately called because the suspect had already shown a gun. However, he said had Wesley hidden the weapon, JCPS security officers would have been called to respond to an armed suspect with no means of defense.

The Greenwood cafeteria worker said said she has tried to contact board members repeatedly by phone and email. No one has ever responded to her, she said.

After the incident, JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio praised the Greenwood cafeteria workers for following protocol and keeping students safe. However, Greenwood employee on Tuesday said there was no protocol and that they were simply lucky.

“Innocent children would have lost their lives that day,” she said.

Hardin also pointed out that there were several armed LMPD officers and other law enforcement present at the meeting for security.

“Look at the security that was here today for you all,” she told them. “Not for our children — for you all.”

“Security is here tonight for the board meeting,” JCPS school board member Diane Porter responded. “That means everybody in this room, everybody in the lobby, and everybody that’s in this building.

The Greenwood cafeteria worker said said JCPS students deserve that security, too.

“We need a monitor on school grounds to help in a situation that gets out of hand and not leave it to your cafeteria workers, your front desk people, the custodian,” she said. “We need trained people in our schools to keep our children safe.”

She finished her statements by urging the JCPS Board of Education to find funding for security officers at schools.

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