NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Following the deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Tennessee school officials have spoken out against the act of violence.
Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, issued a statement on the incident, which left 14 students and one teacher dead at the hands of an 18-year-old shooter.
“We are devastated by the senseless, horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School in Ulvade, Texas, that has caused the death of several students and teachers,” she said. “Children have the right to learn and thrive in a safe environment, free from violence or tragedy, and far too often society fails in protecting that right. Our hearts go out to all the families in Ulvade who have lost loved ones.”
The director added that Metro Nashville schools will be working with its school support services team in order to offer teachers and staff the necessary tools to help themselves and their students process “this tragic event,” and will be consulting with the Metro Nashville Police Department and the MNPS Security team to determine any additional steps the district should take in the immediate aftermath.
Metro Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake released a statement detailing plans for MNPD to visit all 70 elementary schools in the district in order to “reassure staff and discuss security protocols.” He has also directed all the School Resources Officers and supervisors to relay the same messaging at their assigned middle and high schools.
“As a parent and grandparent of a 4-year-old, I am heartbroken over this afternoon’s murders of elementary school children and at least one teacher in Texas,” he said in the statement.
High school graduation ceremonies have been taking place over the last week and will conclude Wednesday, Drake added.
“Our department has taken steps, as we do each year, to enhance safety and security at those events,” he said.
In Memphis, Dr. Joris M. Ray, Superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County Schools offered the district’s “heartfelt thoughts & prayers” to the students, staff and families of Robb Elementary.
“Schools should be a place for children to learn without fear—a place to RUN TO and not from,” he said on social media. “We stand with fellow educators to SOUND THE ALARM against violence.”
Rutherford County Schools also issued a statement, asking for unification in support of the Uvalde community.
“We mourn with the families and community of Uvalde, Texas, as they process and suffer through this horrendous tragedy,” the statement read. “Schools are meant to be a place of discovery, wonder and learning, and these situations are heart wrenching to everyone involved in education. Let us all unite in our support of these students, teachers, first-responders and parents.”
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In Cheatham County, the graduation ceremonies planned for this Friday, May 27, will have an increased law enforcement presence, administration officials announced.
“These additional measures will help ensure the safety of those attending our graduation ceremonies as well as provide the Class of 2022 a send-off with a well-earned celebration of their achievements,” the district said in an announcement. “We are asking all guests to cooperate with any requests from law enforcement personnel.
The Sycamore High School graduation is set for 10 a.m. Friday at the Austin Peay State University Dunn Center. Cheatham County High School’s graduation will follow at 1 p.m. in the same location. Harpeth High School’s graduation is set for 7 p.m. Friday on the school’s football field.
Any changes will be communicated by the school in case of inclement weather.
Wednesday saw Sara Duran, Organizing Director of Metropolitan Nashville Education Association, issue a statement of grief for Uvalde and calling for action from lawmakers.
“Today, we grieve with the families, students, educators and community members in UIvalde, TX, and all over the country,” she said. “This is yet another senseless and preventable act of violence. We cannot continue to ignore the threat to community health and wellbeing caused by gun violence. Schools should be safe havens in our communities. Arming teachers is not the answer; more guns in schools is not the answer. What we need is to address the policies that make it easy to acquire guns. We need action from state and federal legislators, and we need it now.”
Sumner County Schools newly-named Director of Schools Del R. Phillips III released his own statement Thursday expressing his heartbreak and sorrow and assuaging Sumner County parents’ unease about school security.
“We are heartbroken by the unspeakable tragedy in Uvalde, Texas,” Phillips said. “The thoughts and prayers of everyone in our district are with the families and loved ones affected by this event.”
He added, “School safety is the first priority for our school staff every day. In partnership with the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, we use daily processes and practices to keep our students and campuses safe and assess potential threats quickly.
“Our district’s School Safety Office works continually with our Sheriff’s Office to review, implement and improve our school safety plans using industry best practices to try to provide the safest environment possible.”
The school administrators joined multiple state and local elected officials in expressing their condolences to the Uvalde community following the mass shooting.