Parents upset after not being notified of gun at elementary school

by: Richard Belcher Updated:

Families were seen leaving with a written notice about the incident, an apparent response to Belcher's inquiries.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has learned that a DeKalb County elementary school waited five days before filling out a formal report that a student had brought a pellet gun to the school.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher said state law requires that the school notify authorities immediately.

The school system initially told Belcher the gun was a toy but finally acknowledged it was a pellet gun.

A school district representative said no rules or laws were violated, even though the referral report wasn't filled out until five days after the incident.

Parents weren't told about it for seven weeks, which was after Belcher started asking questions.

Channel 2 Action News was outside Woodward Elementary off North Druid Hills Road as parents came to pick up their children Thursday.

Channel 2 photojournalist Leo Chavarria asked parents if they had been notified that a girl brought a pellet pistol to school last month.

One mother told him she told she knew nothing.  A father said he considers a pellet gun a weapon that could cause serious injuries, but he, too, knew nothing until Channel 2 told him.

Moments later, families were seen leaving with a written notice about the incident, an apparent response to Belcher's inquiries.

School officials said everyone involved, including Principal Melanie Pearch, responded properly. State law requires immediate notification of authorities.

Belcher wondered why the referral notice was dated Dec. 10 when the incident took place on Dec. 5. He asked district spokeswoman Lillian Govus that very question.

"It was investigated on the 6th. It was reported to the district on the 6th, as well," Govus told Belcher.

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"Why is none of that in this report?" Belcher asked.

"I can't answer that for you," Govus answered.

"Isn't that a little suspicious, that an official report is done and it just doesn't cover all the things you say happened?" Belcher asked.

"I don't think it's suspicious, because elementary school personnel are focused on teaching and educating children, not creating crime reports," Govus said.

Belcher filed an open records request for the initial report to school resource officers, plus the results of the investigation that was conducted and emails among administrators at Woodward.