Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) are safe places for students to learn.
That was the message officials wanted to convey during an Oct. 28 press conference at the close of school at Patrick Henry High School, 4320 Newton Ave. N. The conference was called in the wake of a student bringing a handgun to the school on Oct. 26. Although according to officials the gun was not loaded, it was still cause for great concern, but officials stressed this was an isolated incident and commended fellow students for alerting school officials.
“Anyone who threatens the safety of our students has to deal with us,” said Michael Goar, interim superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools, with the “us” being his administration and concerned community members who flanked Goar during the press conference. “We’re here to declare “not in our schools!” We want to make sure that Minneapolis Public Schools is a weapons free, violence free and gang free zone. Our leadership at Patrick Henry High and staff are committed to keeping our students safe. That’s a commitment from all of our schools.”
Goar said the safest place for students to be is inside the walls of the schools, but said a concern is what happens to students before and after school.
“Once (students) leave our schools we’re concerned for them. This is an issue indicative of what’s going on in our city,” said Goar. “We need the support of the community as a whole.”
Goar said since the Henry incident additional staff has been assigned to the school and the district has been coordinating with the Minneapolis Police Department and Metropolitan Council Transit Police to insure student safety. “We’re exploring all options to make sure our kids are safe.”
The student with the gun has been removed from the school according to the interim superintendent. “And he will not return,” said Goar.
“Our expectation for our students is peace,” said Steve Belton, interim president and CEO of the Minneapolis Urban League. “We are declaring peace, but it takes all of us. We all have to be committed. We are making it clear that we are reclaiming our community and the cultural value of education.”
School officials are encouraging students to take an active role in their safety and alert staff or authorities to unsafe conditions. The district has a hotline, (866) SPEAK-UP, dedicated for students to use to anonymously report tips.