(07/23/2009)
Calhoun Sheriff Allen Parsons says his statements before the Calhoun Commission have been misquoted, regarding problems at Calhoun Middle-High School.

Parsons was reported as saying officers had responded to the Calhoun Middle-High School on nine occasions when weapons had been brought onto school property.

Parsons is now saying he was referring to statistics given to him by Shari Johnson, who initiated the grant to place a deputy sheriff at the school.

Commissioners maintain they accurately heard Parsons' comments.

The statistics Parsons is likely referring to is from a Pride Survey conducted at the school last year with student feedback.

Parsons told the commissioners there are numerous problems with drugs and sex, saying "There is frequent sex in the hallways."

Principal Karen Kirby, in a press release to the Herald and the Calhoun Chronicle, said "The recent published comments about weapons and sexual activity at the school are not accurate."

"During my tenure as an administrator at Calhoun County Middle/High, the police have not been called to the school for weapons possession, nor am I aware of student sexual misconduct in the hallways," she said.

(Read CM-HS press release at bottom of story)

Parsons told the three commissioners last Thursday he had problems having deputies available to respond to such incidents at the school, supporting the need to place the Prevention Resource Officer at the school, having already hired and reinstated Charles McCroskey for the position.

Parsons recalled an incident shortly after 9-11 when a student with a gun was reported near the school grounds, saying "If we don't do something about this now, something really bad will happen."

Parsons told the commissioners none of the three deputies currently working for the Sheriff's Department wants to be assigned to the school.

The commission had earlier advised Parsons and grant originator Johnson they would not consider approving the hire of a deputy until the grant was approved, and would consider moving forward with the project when they learned the details.

The grant has yet to be approved by state officials.

Parsons told the commission he had to hire McCroskey because he was required to attend special schooling given in June or July that would qualify him [McCroskey] for the school officer position.

At last Thursday's meeting, there was discussion regarding the legality of McCroskey's hire, based on statements made by attorneys looking at his case.

Calhoun Prosecuting Attorney Shelly DeMarino changed her mind regarding the issue, saying it was a legal hire.

McCroskey, who spoke to the commission, maintained the county's Deputy Sheriff's Civil Service Commission recommended him, and that their recommendation must be honored.

McCroskey said he was not of the mind to bring a lawsuit against the county, but was concerned who would pay for his $800 schooling.

The commission, while acknowledging the sheriff has the constitutional right to hire whomever he wants for the position, continues to decline approval of the hire because of scarce financial resources, at least until the grant is approved.

CALHOUN PRINCIPAL ISSUES STATEMENT

The Calhoun County Middle/High School staff is committed to high standards of academic and social behavior for our students on a daily basis.

The standards in our school are reflective of our country's legal system and the social norms and expectations of our community.

The students of Calhoun Middle/High are truly above average in moral character and values, and reflect those of their parents, churches and the teachers with whom they have daily contact.

The recent published comments about weapons and sexual activity at the school are not accurate. During my tenure as an administrator at Calhoun County Middle/High, the police have not been called to the school for weapons possession, nor am I aware of student sexual misconduct in the hallways.

The hallways are monitored by teachers and administrators in the mornings, evenings and during every class change.

Our halls are also constantly monitored electronically by motion cameras and digitally recorded.

We welcome and support having a deputy assigned as a resource officer at our school to assist us in providing a supportive, safe environment for learning.

Our students are teenagers. They occasionally make a mistake and need guidance and correction. Above all, students need to know that we, their parents, teachers and community, believe they are intelligent, capable, sincere, honest, caring and loving members of our community.

The staff of Calhoun Middle/High has worked to increase parental involvement in our school, which is currently at a record high.

Our parents and volunteers have witnessed the occasional problem we encounter dealing with 650 students daily. However, they are normal problems and not excessive or extreme.

It is the responsibility of the parents, adults and officials in our community to work together to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment for our children.

Karen Kirby, Principal
Calhoun County Middle/High School

See related stories:

SHERIFF PARSONS SAYS "I STEPPED TO THE PLATE" - Commission Sticks With Decision, Will Not Approve Deputy Pay Until Grant Arrives"

CALHOUN STUDENTS EXHIBIT RISKY BEHAVIORS, SAYS PRIDE SURVEY - Disturbing Statistics


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