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Students Suspended and May Be Expelled for Not Reporting Threat

Students Suspended and May Be Expelled for Not Reporting Threat


Officers from the Mesquite Police Department were called to Pioneer Technology & Art Academy, a Dallas area charter school, on February 19th, just before 9 a.m. They had been alerted by the assistant principal that a 16-year-old student on campus had entered the building with a firearm and had locked himself in an office. 

The school went into an active shooter lockdown while responding officers attempted to negotiate with the armed student before he fired over a dozen shots. The shooter suffered a minor injury in the gunfire exchange, but no other injuries were reported.

Now, three students have been suspended for not telling staff that the student had a gun, and there is talk of possible expulsion. 

9th grader Gabriela Rodriguez says she came to class about 20 minutes late when a boy moved to sit beside her. “He decides to just open his backpack and start flashing the gun at me,” she said. “He said he was going to do it one day, so today was that day, and how he’s only going to be going after the English teacher. That everybody should just leave the classroom after.”

She also says she assumed the gun was fake. “I sat there shocked because I didn’t think it was a real gun. I sat there for like five minutes just thinking this isn’t real, this isn’t real. This isn’t happening.”

The bell rang a few minutes later, so Rodriguez went to her next class without alerting adults. “Yes,” she said, “I could’ve tried, but at this point, it’s just my mind thinking… Would this kid turn on me, and I get hurt instead of anyone else?” 

Two other students saw the gun but also assumed it was fake. Now, they have been suspended and are facing possible expulsion from the school. 

Rodriguez’ mother said she always taught her children that “if you see something, say something,” but that her daughter should not be shamed for her response in a stressful situation. “That’s putting  a lot on a child who just saw a kid with a gun in a classroom,” she said. “She’s still growing and her mentality is not fully developed. To place something that big on her, when she in fact feared for her life.”

The students, she says, have already been traumatized by the events and should not face any discipline. Other parents are showing support for the suspended students and their families, saying it is the school that failed them.

When interviewed by reporters, students said the school never educated or prepared them for this kind of situation. They also talked about a lack of trust for the adults in the school. Parent Edgar Villa said, “Maybe they weren’t feeling comfortable telling teachers because of the way the teachers are treating them.” While everyone involved agrees that students should warn adults of a potential shooting, as they are often the first to learn of potential threats, they should not be punished for not doing so. 

The school sent a statement to NBC 5 that reads in part:

We are aware of the inquiries regarding the disciplinary actions taken in connection with the incident. Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), PTAA is restricted from discussing specific student cases publicly. We assure the community that all decisions are made with thorough consideration, adhering to our established policies and ensuring the well-being of our students and staff.

Educating our students about safety, responsibility, and the importance of reporting concerns is a continuous process. PTAA is devoted to instilling these values through our curriculum and community engagement initiatives. We believe in learning from incidents to build a safer, more aware, and cohesive school environment.

PTAA is in the process of arranging further meetings and discussions with specific parents and students. These forums will be designed to listen, share updates, and collaboratively work towards enhancing our school’s safety and security measures. If you disagree with the school’s decision to suspend and possibly expel these students, you can sign a petition here.

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Jane Morris

Jane Morris is the pen name of an ex-teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is worried awful administrators will come after her for spilling their dirty little secrets. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in Writing and Literature from an even fancier (and more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh through the tears.

She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.