Majority of Henry Clay High School students take excused absence following Thursday security threat

Caitlin Centner/Twitter

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A majority of Henry Clay High School students decided to stay home Friday after authorities found a loaded gun on campus Thursday.

Fayette County Public Schools superintendent Manny Caulk says approximately 40 percent of students attended school Friday.

School leaders announced Thursday the absences will be excused.

The district has announced increased security measures following the Thursday scare which led to one student's arrest. Caulk says all secondary schools with hallways will have additional staffing at the entrance. They will also use handheld metal detectors on a more frequent basis.

Although the district is taking additional steps, Caulk says there is not a fool-proof solution to prevent security incidents.

"School safety, I believe, is not just an issue we're wrestling with in Fayette County, but across the Commonwealth," Caulk said.

Caulk mentioned a heated Thursday night school safety public meeting which casts some doubt over one of the more popular suggestions -- metal detectors.

"You heard last night when the two experts talked about metal detectors, they're not fail-safe."

WKYT talked to multiple students who attended class Friday, and they felt reassured they would have a safe campus environment.

"I was nervous yesterday, but today I'm honestly fine because of all the security we're going to have," Phoebe Tripure said.

Another student understands why some students took the day off, but she decided to attend like she would most Fridays.

"I also think there should be nerves going around and people should be on heightened awareness," Allison Tripure said.

Amanda Ferguson, a current member of the school's site-based decision-making council, former member of the county school board, and parent of a student at Henry Clay, told WKYT that there are no easy, immediate answers at the school level or district level, but she is glad the superintendent is addressing it.

"Anything that we can do to make students and teachers and staff safer in the building is going to help," she said.

Letter from Henry Clay principal to families on Friday

Dear Henry Clay High School Families:

All is well here at Henry Clay and I just wanted to reach out and thank those of you who have called and emailed with kind words of support. We have a wonderful school with excellent students and great family and community engagement. As your principal, I am determined to using the events of yesterday to make our school even stronger.

One of my commitments to you is to work on better avenues of communication with students, staff and families. While we worked yesterday to ensure that families were given accurate information about yesterday’s incident, I understand that some of you did not receive our messages. Although it is unlikely will ever be faster than a student’s text message or Snapchat, we do want to get information to you more quickly.

As Superintendent Manny Caulk shared in his press conference last week, the district will soon be releasing an enhanced emergency notification system for families, staff and students. We are working with them to enhance our existing strategies and establish protocols so we are better able to communicate in real time.

Another change that Superintendent Caulk announced last week was the addition of monitors in schools like ours where the front door does not lead to a secure vestibule. I’m pleased to tell you that it just so happens our new staff member was scheduled to start today. Please help me welcome Mr. Charles McDavid to the Blue Devils family and do not be offended when you are asked for identification and purpose for visiting when you enter the building.

You may also have ideas and suggestions about how we can improve our safety procedures here at Henry Clay, or you may still have questions about what happened. To provide an open forum for those conversations, I will be holding a public meeting to discuss safety next week Wednesday, March 7, at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria here at school.

Our entire team here at Henry Clay High School is committed to taking every precaution to keep our campus a safe place to learn and work. Thank you for your continued support and as always, please do not hesitate to call me with questions or concerns at 859-381-3423.


Paul Little, principal

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