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Bullet prompts search of Pennington Middle School

WALTER LITTRELL • Apr 28, 2007 at 12:51 PM

PENNINGTON GAP - For the second time this week, Lee County students have been subjected to locker and book bag searches after a student at Pennington Middle School found a live round of .22-caliber ammunition on the gymnasium bleachers.

Principal Harry Reasor said a search of all lockers, classrooms, book bags and purses turned up no contraband of any sort.

"Because of all the recent scares, we wanted to take precautions and just make sure the other part to that bullet wasn't here," he said of the search.

Reasor said while the school did not go into a lockdown mode for the search, it was conducted "in such a fashion so that no one was able to say they were excluded."

The search was conducted during lunch to cause minimal disruption to classes and was conducted by personnel from the school, school board office and School Resource Officer Richard Crabtree, said the principal.

"I was pleased to see that no contraband was found at all," Reasor said.

The principal stressed that there was no reason to believe a weapon was on the school grounds, and the search was conducted for safety reasons as well as to let students know that they are subject to be searched at any time in the hope that the knowledge will prevent them from bringing contraband on campus.

"I didn't think the situation warranted talking to just a few students, so we searched them all. One idea I want out there is that we have the capability and that students are susceptible to have their backpacks searched at any time. If they're not doing anything wrong, then that shouldn't be a problem for them. We just want to do the best we can to ensure the safety of everybody," Reasor said.

Sheriff Gary Parsons said because of recent events in the county's schools and others across the country, he has instructed his officers to increase the number of walk-throughs in all county schools to help beef up security.

"I have no reason to believe there was an actual weapon in the school, but we have got to take all things like this seriously, which we did and we do," said the sheriff.

He encouraged students to be careful about what they put in their pockets so they don't inadvertently take contraband items to school and parents to keep an eye on what their students may be accidentally or purposefully bringing on campus.

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