Local school boards these days have a lot to contend with: shrinking revenues, rising costs, labor contracts, high stakes tests, and on and on.
But all that pales in comparison to what the school board in Panama City, Fla., dealt with this week when a routine board meeting turned into a nightmare.
A man named Clay Duke spray-painted a circle with a big letter V inside it, then pulled out a gun and ordered everyone out of the room except for the superintendent and male board members. Board members begged Duke not to shoot them. The superintendent even pleaded with Duke to let everyone else go and deal with him one on one.
But Duke opened fire on the board, getting several shots off (but not hitting anyone) before a security guard fired at Duke, who fell to the floor and ended up shooting himself in the head.
(This version of the video does not show the ultimate outcome.)
Duke suffered a host of problems, including a criminal past, a mental health history and money troubles, the Associated Press reported. What brought him before officials of the Bay County School District, apparently, was the fact that his wife had been fired by them. It seems it was, as they say, the perfect storm, unlikely to be repeated there or anywhere else.
Yet the incident seems likely to have school board members and school admininstrators around the country taking a second look around their board rooms this week. (Remember how much the shootings at Columbine ended up altering schools across the country?) Locally, Buffalo is one of the few districts to have security guards present at board meetings.
Will officials in any local schools look at Clay Duke and decide to reconsider security arrangements at their own board meetings?
- Mary Pasciak