INDIANAPOLIS - (WISH) - Some Lawrence Central High School parents didn't trust school officials to keep their children safe Friday. So, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
Friday, Nicole Erwin kept her son and daughter home following a pepper spray incident that sent 15 children to the hospital. Erwin said her daughter was born premature and suffers from a lung condition.
"I felt bad because she asked me not to let her go to school Thursday," Erwin said. "We prayed and I told her to watch her surroundings. I believed that the schools took the precautions to keep her safe."
She wasn't alone.
More than 800 students, one-third of Lawrence Central High School's student body, were not in class Friday said district spokesperson, Mary Louise Bewley.
The extraordinary absenteeism follows two days of evacuations at the school after pepper spray was released.
Maureen Leyden, who also kept her children home, says she is concerned about security. Friday morning, her boys saw a post on a social media site saying "bullets fly Friday."
"I kept my kids home today because we can't predict the behavior of a few people that are there," Leyden said. "What do we do on Monday or on Tuesday when we let our guard down?"
Leyden and Erwin say they would like to see the backpacks checked and stored in lockers. The district spokesperson says checking every backpack would take a lot of time. The board president also weighed in and said the lockers were small.
"My concern is the 2000 backpacks that are going into school everyday and kids could take anything in a backpack," Leyden said.
In response to the incidents, police presence has increased and student dismissal times have been staggered.
Thursday night, school officials met behind closed doors to address the recent security problems at the school.
Helmus, whose son is a student at the high school, said the district is taking note and evaluating what happened.
"It took place during a passing period. From this we have learned we need to do drills that are unusual," she said. "Typical emergency drills take place when students are in a classroom with their teacher.
Moving forward, the goal is to prepare for potential problems outside of the classroom.
Meanwhile, the district is hoping the students will be proactive and let school leaders know who the trouble makers are. The district has created an anonymous tip line. Students can call in; voice their concerns without their peers knowing.
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