District of Distrust: Parents upset over silence after BB gun found on school grounds

(WDTN Photo)

TIPP CITY, Ohio (WDTN) – A group of high school parents is upset and demanding answers after Tipp City Schools fails to notify them when several weapons are found on schools grounds.

Police recovered two knives and a BB gun from a student’s car at Tippecanoe High School on March 24, 2017 and parents say they’re now concerned for the safety of their children after they say the district left them in the dark about how they handled the situation.

“What else,” parent Kari Carter questioned. “Are they hiding? What else are they not telling us the truth about?”

Parents, like Carter, are furious, angry and disappointed they weren’t informed, saying the district displays a ‘lack of transparency’.
“It’s hard to trust them,” parent Brandy Sorah said. “When they hide stuff from you.”

“They’re responsible for our kids when we don’t have them,” Carter said. “And we heard nothing.”

“They’re responsible for our kids when we don’t have them,” Carter said. “And we heard nothing.”

2 NEWS obtained footage from a Tipp City police officer’s body camera, which shows the moment the principal and police confront the student about what they found in his car.

“Your car was unlocked,” the principal said in the video. “So we searched it and we found all kinds of stuff. Some of the stuff may be more concerning others, but this one is a big one.”

The principal then references the student’s Sig Sauer 1911 Pellet Pistol BB Gun confiscated from the student’s unlocked car in the Tippecanoe High School parking lot.

“I’ll be blunt with you.” the police officer said in the video. “It’s really stupid for you to have that. The first thing that we thought and the first thing that everyone else thought in this room is that ‘Oh, that’s a real gun’.”

According to a March 24th Tipp City Police Department police report, the officer said the BB gun ‘looked authentic and had no distinguishing marks showing it not to be a firearm’.

“I should have been notified,” parent Cathy Smith said. “Along with all the other parents with kids in the same school.”

The parents 2 NEWS spoke with agree. 2 NEWS took their concerns to Tipp City Schools Superintendent Gretta Kumpf, who declined our request for an on-camera interview, but did answer our questions via email.

“There was no threat posed to students, staff or property,” Superintendent Gretta Kumpf said in an email to 2 NEWS. “In the March 24th incident. The district did not feel there was a need to communicate information to parents based on the situation.”

The parents 2 NEWS spoke with say otherwise. 2 NEWS Reporter Jordan Bowen asked “What do you think they should have done?” Kari answered, “Well, at least a one call now. That day so that we were aware so that we could talk to our kids about it when they came home.”

The district says notifying all parents isn’t their policy.

“The District’s practice is to immediately notify affected parents,” Kumpf wrote in an email. “When conditions arise that may affect the health, safety and well-being of their children. After investigating the matter with law enforcement, it was determined the student at issue did not possess the BB gun and camping knife in a motor vehicle for the purpose of threatening or harming anyone.  Accordingly, other parents and the general student population were not notified of the incident.”

Sidney City Schools took a different approach when a student had a gun in their backpack.

“They dismissed the students by rows out in the hallway,” Sidney City Schools Superintendent John Scheu said. “They checked book bags and things like that and discovered that there was a loaded handgun.”

The school’s armed response team handed over the gun to police, while Superintendent Scheu sent out a ‘one call’ to every parent, within the hour, informing them on how the district handled the situation.

“We wanted to get the message out to the parents that everything was taken care of,” Superintendent Scheu said. “That the situation was handled.”

Even though the incident at Tippecanoe involved a BB gun, Brandy Sorah and others say they should have received the same message.

“Anyone could have walked by,” Sorah said. “And grabbed the gun and went in and induced a panic.”

“Why didn’t we know about it?” Carter said. “Why wasn’t any action taken?”

“I still don’t understand,” the police officer said in the video. “What’s the purpose?”

“I don’t have a good explanation,” the student answered. “For that.”

“Then, I would,” the police officer said. “Get rid of it.”

Late Thursday afternoon the superintendent of Tipp City Schools, Gretta Kumpf, sent 2 NEWS a written response they have posted on their website. This is the first time the district has publicly acknowledged the incident.

Guns have been found at other schools in the Miami Valley in the last two years. Reads about them here.


click map

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