Allegations of hit list by alleged shooter dominate parent concerns. New security steps outlined by superintendent
Taft High School administrators came under fire Tuesday night from parents who said the school didn't act appropriately to deal with the student accused of shooting and critically injuring another student on campus Jan. 10.
The criticism came during a nearly two-hour meeting between parents, school officials and law enforcement in response to the shooting of Bowe Cleveland in a science classroom.
About 175 people packed the IRC lecture hall on the TUHS campus for the meeting.
Some repeated the allegations made repeatedly since the shooting that the suspect, whose name was not mentioned at the meeting, had been the subject of an investigation in the 2011-12 school year over allegations of a "hit list."
The alleged shooter has been identified by numerous sources as Bryan Oliver, 16. He is a Taft Union High School junior, as is Cleveland.
Oliver is charged with two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault on a person with a firearm.
"My son was No. 7 on the hit list last year," a parent said. "Unfortunately, Bowe Cleveland got to be No. 1 this year."
"If you get F's, you get sent to Buena Vista. If you have a hit list, you get to come back after two days of suspension," said another.
Steve Gee said his son was in the classroom when Cleveland was shot. Shotgun pellets "whizzed by his head." He questioned whether school officials who allowed the alleged shooter back to school after he was deemed not to be a threat would be disciplined.
Interim Supt. William McDermott spoke on the district's behalf and said privacy rules and laws sharply limited what campus officials could say about the shooting.
He said he understood the pain and concern parents are feeling.
"My heart goes out to them," he said.
He outlined new security procedures at the school, including limiting access points to the campus before school and at lunch, locking gates during class and allowing entry only through the administration building.
More security also is coming, McDermott said.
Law enforcement was praised, as was some school staff, but most of the criticism was directed at what many parents saw as a lack of concern by administrators to threats allegedly made by Oliver last year and again this year.
See the weekend edition of the Taft Midway Driller for a complete report on the meeting.