A Richmond County Transitional School student has been charged as an adult for allegedly bringing a firearm onto school property, according to an arrest warrant on file with the Richmond County District Court.
Last Wednesday, 16-year-old Casey Allen Harris of Rockingham was served a warrant by school police when school officials learned that Harris was carrying a gun, according to the warrant.
“Concerned students and alert and responsive school officials prevented what could have been a dangerous situation from turning into a potentially bad incident,” said Richmond County Schools Superintendent George Norris in a statement Friday.
At 12:35 p.m. Wednesday, Richmond County Schools Special Police Officer Steven Pittman served a warrant for the arrest of Harris, who was searched and found to be carrying a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, the warrant said. Harris is being charged with bringing a gun onto educational property and possession of a handgun by a minor.
“School officials are constantly on the alert for anything that might threaten school safety and, in this situation, their quick decision-making prevented anyone from being at risk of immediate harm. We are proud of the way this matter was investigated and handled and with the immediate responsiveness of school officials. The fact that students and school officials were alert and took responsibility for their own safety says a lot about the individuals involved and about the preventive efforts we have directed against school violence,” Norris said Friday.
According to Norris, the school, located at 377 Mizpah Road, Rockingham, was not evacuated and schedules were not altered due to the incident.
Although information about the incident was released from Richmond County Schools to the Daily Journal on Wednesday, Norris took two days to respond to a series of questions, and after answering four questions out of more than a dozen posed to him by the Daily Journal, Norris continued to refuse to answer: how many weapons (after indicating multiple had been seized), what kind of weapons including caliber or length, if they were loaded or if ammo was nearby, where they were found, if the student cooperated, who the student was (including date of birth, address and specific charges), reasons the student brought the weapon to school and if bullying was an issue in this case?
Instead, Norris replied, “All of the information that we have about these questions will be contained in educational records that cannot be released because they are confidential under FERPA.”
FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
According to Norris, The Richmond County Transitional School opened in the fall of 2008. The school was opened for students who had completed a ninth grade experience but were not ready to handle the large comprehensive high school. Some had failed one or more subjects but had enough credits to be promoted. Some of the students had been previously retained in ninth grade and would not benefit from an additional retention. Many of the students assigned to the Transitional School had attendance problems causing gaps in their learning, he said.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: The original article had an error that has been corrected. This article is the correct version. We apologize for the error.