Taft High School officials will meet with parents next Tuesday offer information and answer questions in the wake of last week's campus shooting that left one student critically wounded and another facing life in prison.
The 5 p.m. meeting will be held in the I.R.C. lecture hall located on the south side of the campus adjacent to the cafeteria.
The announcement late Thursday morning from interim Supt. Dr. William McDermott said he and members of the Board of Trustees would "general information" and answer questions parents "may have regarding the changes that are currently taking place on our campuses."
McDermott is serving as interim superintendent while the district conducts a search for Mark Richardson's replacement. Richardson resigned in August on the eve of the beginning of the current school year.
Parents have been calling for a meeting – some saying the school should have assembled parents and provided information even before students were released after spending hours in lockdown after the shooting.
The meeting announcement addressed the reasons for the delay.
"The District has been dealing with the immediate needs of the students and staff and wants to communicate with parents," adding that the trustees "want to provide an opportunity to share what has been happening on the campus to move us forward."
School district officials are not responding to requests for information.
Then word leaked Wednesday night that next Tuesday's regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees had been cancelled.
Part of the reason for the news blackout may be the Kern County District Attorney's desire to try 16-year-old suspect Bryan Oliver as an adult and seek a sentence of life in prison.
In announcing her decision to try Oliver as an adult, D.A. Lisa Green said prosecutors were trying to avoid a change of venue that would move the trial out of the county.
Then, at her request, the Kern County Sheriff's Dept. – apparently the lead agency conducting the investigation – cancelled last Monday's scheduled news conference.
Green's office reportedly discouraged Taft High officials from talking about the case.
Meanwhile, counselors remain available to students who may be having trouble coming to grips with last week's incident that led to a community-wide school lockdown.
Additional counselors were sent from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office and Optimal Hospice, among others.
Principal Marilyn Brown said the school was overwhelmed by offers of help.
Therapy dogs were on campus Tuesday when classes resumed and security blankets arrived on campus Wednesday.
Five hundred were distributed then. First-period science building classes – where the shooting occurred – got the first batch. Another batch was to be distributed today.
Attendance has returned to normal after some students stayed home on Tuesday, the first day classes were held since the shooting.
Some students gathered in front of the main building for a prayer and words of encouragement and solidarity.
The classroom where the shooting occurred has been sealed off, and teacher Ryan Heber's classes have been relocated.