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KIPP High School in St. Louis shifts to online learning after another student brings gun on campus

The move came after another student brought a weapon onto campus for the third time this fall.
Credit: KSDK
KIPP High School in St. Louis has decided to shift to online learning after another student brings a gun to campus. This fall, it is the third time.

ST. LOUIS — KIPP High School in St. Louis announced earlier this week that it has paused in-person learning because of safety concerns on campus.

The school sent a letter out notifying it will shift to virtual instruction momentarily due to safety and security concerns on campus.

Administrators announced that another student had brought a weapon to campus on Jefferson Avenue, which is the third time an incident like this has occurred this fall.

KIPP St. Louis High School's full statement:

"On Friday, October 7, we received a report that a student was in possession of a gun at KIPP St. Louis High School. 

Administrators immediately isolated the threat and contacted the police. No staff or students were harmed.

Since this is the third incident where a weapon was found on campus this fall, we decided to cancel in-person classes for a short period while we make modifications to school security. Learning will continue via virtual classes for all students next week, and we plan to return to in-person classes the week of Oct 24th.

Our updated security strategy will include metal detectors, more extensive security camera coverage, additional security staff on campus, updated student supervision protocols, and increased mental health support.

The decision to cancel school is a decision we don’t take lightly, but the safety of our students is our number one priority. 

We are grateful to our families for being flexible and partnering with us on solutions for our school community."

A former teacher who did not want to be identified told 5 On Your Side they had just decided to walk away from their job at the school on Wednesday.

“Just teaching...building those relationships was really impactful for me as a person," the teacher said. "I think the frustration was lots of chaos and lack of organization."

The teacher also said while most students were there to learn, others continued to act out and not be disciplined for it.

“A lot of the students that we're seeing bring weapons into the school are still there, create fights, or provoke fights with students are still at the school," the former faculty member, said. "The same problems happen over and over again."

"I think people are feeling burnt out and frustrated," the teacher said.

The teacher also said a random bag check process once when a weapon was brought onto campus, which further triggered students.

"It created a lot of anxiousness because of all our resources were devoted to those bag checks...multiple fights broke out,” the teacher said.

Lacora Bell, who is a senior, has attended the school since 5th grade and felt the same way.

“It's embarrassing because here I am wanting to learn and, in the hallway, you just hear boom...boom...boom," she said.

Laveda Bell, who is Lacora's mom, felt like the feeling of community at the school was missing, including parent involvement.

“Teaming up with local schools...see how they are doing," Bell said. "Don't be afraid and ashamed to ask...we need help right now."

The family felt like the school was not living up to its mission.

"Knowledge is a power program and I just feel like if that is of value why do we keep doing things that don't align with that,” Bell said.

"If that feeling is not there, genuine learning can't take place," the teacher said. 

Administrative staff also acknowledged the school follows disciplinary actions in accordance with its Student Code of Conduct

The punishment depends on the severity of the infraction.

They maintained bringing a weapon on campus is grounds for arrest and then further discussed among a board who will then decide about suspension or expulsion.

Students will return to in-person classes the week of October 24.    

Parents will be able to weigh in on the new security process through several virtual town hall sessions.

To view the KIPP St. Louis public schools' student and family handbook, click here

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