Oak Ridge councilwoman claims "culture of terror" at schools

Oak Ridge councilwoman claims "culture of terror" at city schools

Posted:
Trina Baughn took to her website to comment on a "culture of terror" at local schools. Trina Baughn took to her website to comment on a "culture of terror" at local schools.
"I can't carry around knowing the stories that I know and knowing the problems you are dealing with and not do something. That's what prompted me to send my letter," said Baughn. "I can't carry around knowing the stories that I know and knowing the problems you are dealing with and not do something. That's what prompted me to send my letter," said Baughn.
"The protocol, it's a work in progress. It has to do with how the police come in the schools. They're in the schools all the time," said Mayor Beehan. "The protocol, it's a work in progress. It has to do with how the police come in the schools. They're in the schools all the time," said Mayor Beehan.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - Oak Ridge's mayor addressed a city council member's claims of dangers in Oak Ridge schools on Monday.

Council member Trina Baughn says the school system is failing to report potential crimes to the Oak Ridge Police Department.

Last week, Baughn posted an open letter on her website, claiming a "culture of terror" has saturated the school system.

Baughn's letter to superintendent Dr. Bruce Borchers implores him to, "restore safety, order and honor in our schools."

Mayor Tom Beehan called a news conference Monday to respond.

On city council member Trina Baughn's website, she makes public a memo from the Oak Ridge Police Chief to the city manager. The letter was sent in May.

The memo states that the school staff is not reporting matters of drugs, guns or other dangers in school until the next day. Sometimes school resource officers are only notified through students.

Baughn says no resolution to the problem has caused her to go public.

Laura Mclean's daughter just graduated from Oak Ridge High School. She says the school seems safe.

"We never felt like the kids were in danger. We have the ability to pay for our kids to go to private schools, but we elected for them to stay here," said Mclean.

Oak Ridge City Council member Trina Baughn says she's been hearing a different story from other parents and law enforcement.

"We had issues of aggravated assault, aggravated burglary. People come and go on our campuses freely," said Baughn.

She says last year she began hearing how the school staff wasn't reporting potential crimes to the Oak Ridge Police Department.

A memorandum from the police chief to the city manager says the Oak Ridge Schools staff has been reluctant and sometimes obstructive in their interaction with police.

"The police tried to question a student and the administration hid the student from them," said Baughn.

A couple weeks ago, Baughn says the police chief told her communication had not improved, so she went public.

"I can't carry around knowing the stories that I know and knowing the problems you are dealing with and not do something. That's what prompted me to send my letter," said Baughn.

Mayor Tom Beehan held a news conference to refute the claim there's a culture of terror in the schools. He says security is a priority.

"I'm as much concerned about the image of our schools and the paintbrush that's been used on the schools. I know the safety thing will be handled. I'm convinced of that," said Mayor Beehan.

Responding to the chief's claim in the memo of a lack of communication between staff and police, he says it's being addressed

"The protocol, it's a work in progress. It has to do with how the police come in the schools. They're in the schools all the time," said Mayor Beehan.

Baughn hopes school officials improve communication with police.

Mclean says the schools are safe, but adds that increased interaction with authorities could be beneficial.

"Having more communication between the school and the city is a great thing," said Baughn.

The new superintendent will meet with the police chief Wednesday to discuss the communication concerns raised in the memorandum.

The police chief says he has no comment at this point.

Baughn is encouraging everyone to report crimes on school campuses to the Oak Ridge Police Department.

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