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Security has been on school officials’ minds since a former student posted threats against Matanzas High School students online, resulting in a lockdown of three schools, just days before the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
But after a student was arrested Monday on charges of sexual battery in a stairwell of Matanzas High School, a new element has been added the conversation: security for those already inside the school.
“I think we do a pretty good job of keeping our students safe,” said Chris Pryor, the school’s principal. “We’re meeting next week with our staff to try to look and see what else we can do.”
This conversation will likely touch on protocol for teachers who allow their students to leave class during breaks, Pryor said.
A 14-year-old student told Flagler County Sheriff’s Office deputies that she and 16-year-old D’Shawn Hosang were kissing in a stairwell when the boy forced her to perform a sexual act on him, and then forced her to have sex with him. Hosang was arrested that afternoon.
Pryor said the incident occurred while classes were in session. The students were in separate classes, and had both asked their teachers for hall passes before they met in the stairwell.
The incident took place on one of the most frequented sets of stairs in the school, Pryor said. There are stairwells in the two outer buildings, as well, but they aren’t used as often and are kept locked.
“When I first heard that this occurred, my first thought was, ‘Who left the stairwell unlocked?’” Pryor said. “I was just shocked to find out that this happened in that stairwell.”
Matanzas High School has more than 50 security cameras, and students are aware of their locations. Pryor said he began meetings this week to talk about increasing the number of cameras.
“It might be a deterrent because if kids know where cameras are, then they’re not going to do things like that in the stairwell, Pryor said.
The school also has security guards that patrol campus, six administrators who walk the campus and visit campus, a security guard at the front gate, and a school resource officer from the Sheriff’s Office.
Pryor said plans are already in the works for more cameras, and he anticipates their arrival by spring.
The victim showed deputies text messages between herself and Hosang before he was arrested. The messages led to the charges against him, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
Some teachers have expressed a desire to ban cell phones from campus or to block reception within the school, prompting complaints from students on social media websties.
“Students are allowed by state law to have (cell phones),” Pryor said. “Also, blocking cell phone reception is illegal. We can not and will not ban cell phones or electronic devices from campus.”
Sex incident at FPC
During the week of Jan. 7, two Flagler Palm Coast High School students were found having sex in the school’s cafeteria after hours.
“This isn’t a common problem,” said Lynette Shott, the school’s principal. “In the last three years, there are two instances like this that I’m aware of.”
The incident this month is one of those two instances, Shott said. While she said she couldn’t comment on the discipline enacted in specific cases, she said that such an incident, in which students are found in areas restricted after hours, often lead to suspension.