LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Parents and school leaders in Central Arkansas say they’re in disbelief after 19 children and two adults were shot at a Texas elementary school.
“I saw a picture of a little girl on Twitter last night, holding an award and the date was yesterday. They had just had an award ceremony and her mom had just been there,” said Little Rock Parent Ashley Simmons. “I could go for a few hours in the morning and then within 20 minutes of me leaving, life changes forever and they’re gone.”
Simmons says Wednesday morning was unlike any other, dropping her kids off at school in Little Rock.
“Listening to them get out of the backseat and shut the door it felt so much more amplified than normal,” said Simmons.
Tuesday a gunman opened fire in a fourth-grade classroom in Uvalde, Texas, killing 21 people.
19 were children, many of them, the same age as Simmons.
“I just started bawling,” said Simmons. “You send them to school hoping they’re going to be safe, and you trust that, and you just can’t guarantee it these days.”
Parents and school leaders in Central Arkansas say this most recent shooting brings up questions about school safety.
“When you get to a school campus, there’s just no place where a gun should even be around it,” said LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore.
School leaders in the area agree safety needs to be made a priority and districts need to be proactive.
“Unfortunately, it could happen anywhere,” said North Pulaski County/ Jacksonville Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Owoh.
In North Pulaski County and Jacksonville, Dr. Owoh says schools are designed with multi-step entry and stationed with armed security officers.
“Safety is of utmost importance,” said Dr. Owoh.
LRSD says safety goes beyond locking doors.
“We’re not paying attention when these mass murders are occurring, it is things that have already been mapped out, it’s being seen in social media, it’s being seen in writing in verbiage,” said Poore. “We’ve got to be able to take care of those things in a much more aggressive fashion.”
Parents say it’s time for a wake-up call, as some are left wondering if school will ever be safe again.
“That entire class is now gone, and those families are forever going to be — those families are going to forever feel that loss,” said Simmons.
Other school districts like North Little Rock School District have stated they will have increased security for the remainder of the school year.