CLAYTON, Mo. – Clayton High School parents received a letter from the principal Thursday about a student who was caught with a fake plastic gun in a backpack. The district is not releasing the name of the student or anything about disciplinary actions due to privacy reasons.

Parents at Shaw Park, near the high school, said school safety is a growing concern.

“You never really know what to expect. I mean, even if a kid is bringing a fake gun to school, you never know when it’s going to be the real deal,” said Ngone Seck. “Just that mentality of even bringing something that is going to scare other kids. You don’t really know what going on in the background that made them do that, to begin with.”

She said she has several years before her son is in high school, but said school safety is something she worries about.

“Back in my time, the world looked a lot different than it does now,” Seck said. “So I don’t think that the same approach that worked for me back then would necessarily work for kids now because the world looks so different, but I do think that there should be some safe space in between a kid doing something wrong and them being punished for it.”

Here’s the full statement of the letter that parents received about the incident:

Around lunchtime today, two students reported to a counselor they had seen another student with a handgun in the Library. Our School Resource Officer immediately located the student and investigated the allegation. After searching the student, we found a replica (fake) handgun in their backpack. While the top of the plastic gun was red, it was definitely realistic enough to cause concern for anyone who saw it.

For privacy reasons, we can’t discuss any discipline specific to this incident. However, District policy classifies this type of infraction as a Level III Misconduct, the consequences of which could include suspension or expulsion from school and referral to appropriate legal authorities.

The safety of our students and staff is a high priority for everyone in this community. We have emergency plans and procedures in place to keep our students and staff safe. We are a community who looks out for each other. We saw that happen today as the initial report we received was from students who did the right thing by going to an administrator upon seeing a student with the replica weapon. Today’s events remind us how important it is to be aware of our surroundings and report anything that looks out of place. Seeing something then saying something lets us all be part of ensuring CHS is a safe place to both learn and work.

I know that news like this can be unsettling to hear, especially when our news feeds are too frequently populated with incidence of violence occurring at schools. We work tirelessly to ensure that every student or staff member who comes to school or work in the morning is able to return home to their families at the end of the day. Everyone involved today did exactly what they were supposed to do, allowing our SRO and administrators to respond quickly and address a potential safety concern.