by: Mike Petchenik Updated:
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - A Fulton County Schools police officer has resigned from her job because she doesn’t agree with how school leaders handled a recent incident involving a gun on campus.
Long said the teen admitted he intended to shoot someone at the school and that he was involved in a street gang.
The veteran officer exclusively told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik an assistant principal approached her just after lunch that day to say he was checking on a student after hearing some rumors from other students.
“I was just like, ‘OK, so you’re going to handle?’ He was like, ‘Yeah,’” Long told Petchenik. “Something didn’t sit right with me, so I called my supervisor and said, ‘I don’t know what they’re looking for, but I think it might be a weapon.’”
Long said her lieutenant told her to keep tabs on the situation, and she says she followed the assistant principal into the hallway and saw him escorting the suspect into the front office.
“Shortly thereafter, they called me into the counseling office and the weapon was already in the desk drawer, taken from the student,” she said.
Long said the assistant principal’s actions are contrary to district policy, which requires law enforcement to be notified in any situation involving a weapon.
“If you’re not following protocol, how am I supposed to do my job?” she asked. “I should have pried for more information before allowing him to proceed.”
Long said the unarmed assistant principal shouldn’t have escorted the armed student through the hallways of the school without getting police involved.
“He had a weapon and at any time could go ahead and fire that weapon and put everybody’s life in danger,” she said.
Last week, Superintendent Robert Avossa told Petchenik the district would be investigating whether policies and procedures were followed, and promised disciplinary action for those who didn’t act appropriately. Long told Petchenik she was called into the office last week and told to resign or be fired for the handling of the situation.
“I saw the writing on the wall, clearly, and I knew, they’re not going to get rid of the assistant principal or the principal, they’re going to come after me,” she said.
Long told Petchenik she believes what happened at Ridgeview isn’t an isolated situation with respect to schools following safety protocols.
“The principals and the assistant principals have so much power, it’s like where do you cross the line between administration and law enforcement?” she asked. “We’re the last ones to find out what’s happening in our own building.”
Petchenik questioned Fulton County Schools head of human resources, Ron Wade, about the situation and Long’s accusations.
“In this case, we feel there were some policies and procedures that were not followed,” he told Petchenik. “She’s no longer with the county.”
Wade said he could not answer Petchenik’s questions about whether the assistant principal was disciplined or would be.
“We’re not going to get into conversations about employees,” he said. “We’ve reviewed the matter and believe we took appropriate action.”
Wade told Petchenik the district takes the safety and security of students very seriously.
“I think we’ve put and continue to put measures in place to ensure the safety of our kids,” he said.
Monday night, dozens of parents met with school leaders to discuss the incident and safety at the school.
Parent Alan Smith told Channel 2 Action News he helped organize the meeting.
“I was happy with the way we responded,” he said of school officials disarming the student. “But I think we could have communicated to the parents a little better what had happened.”
Late Tuesday, Fulton County Schools sent Petchenik a copy of the human resources investigation into Long’s handling of the situation.
According to the report, Long told investigators the administrator had notified her of his suspicion there was a gun on campus.
According to the report, investigators determined Long told the assistant principal that without probable cause, she couldn’t search the teen, but would stand by to assist.
Investigators concluded that Long should have immediately stepped in and ruled that she “failed to supervise” the situation.