EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – More than a third of students at Edwardsville High School missed school Wednesday after learning of rumors that someone was going to bring a gun to campus. This comes one day after racial problems boiled over Tuesday, resulting in at least one fight and hateful social media messages.
School district officials said they may not know until Thursday just exactly how many students were absent. Superintendent Dr. Jason Henderson said the rumors about guns and threats were investigated by officials and police.
“Looked into all of those rumors and found that all the rumors not to be credible, so there’s no direct threat to the school from a person,” he said.
Approximately 2,500 students attend Edwardsville High School. Eight percent of the student body is African-American. One man who works with African-American high school students said those students told him they heard racial slurs at school.
“It hurts my heart, too. I thought we were so far past that,” said Nate Hickman. “It’s 2019, almost 2020, and still dealing with it. It’s a shame.”
Five extra police and folks from school administration patrolled the school Wednesday making sure everyone was safe.
“It’s not fair to the kids but they learn from their parents, who learned it from their parents, and on and on,” said Janice McGhee, whose step-children attend the high school.
The superintendent said the next step is meeting the racial problem head-on.
“Edwardsville is no different than other communities in that there is racism everywhere, so there is racism within our school as well,” Dr. Henderson said.
The superintendent said he will ask the school board to form a task force made up of students, educators, and members of the community to promote diversity acceptance.
“Gotta get to the bottom of it. What’s going on, the reasons behind it, and see how you can solve a problem and come up with some ideas,” said Steve Smith, whose children attend Edwardsville High School.
Dr. Henderson added: “It is safe to come back to Edwardsville High School (Thursday).”
The superintendent sent parents a letter Wednesday outlining the problems and his solution. He said multiple students will be disciplined for incidents they were involved in.