Parents are demanding answers after an Anderson County 5th-grade boy un-holstered a Varennes Academy of Communications & Technology security guard’s gun Monday without him noticing.
No one was hurt.
Anderson School District 5 spokesman Kyle Newton said the student, who has been punished, had the gun for 8-10 seconds before the guard noticed.
The private security company the district contracts with, Defender Services, Inc. replaced the school’s guard with a new one.
“I mean, obviously, security’s our top priority. I mean, this cannot happen,” said Newton. “We made it very clear he can’t come back.”
Amber Weeks said her 3rd-grade son came home from school Monday with a frightening story.
“It was really, really surprising that something like that would even happen,” said Weeks. “I guess accidents do happen but I’m glad that he’s not here.”
Newton said the school district started contracting with Defender Services because it allows the district to protect more schools for less money.
He said it costs twice as much to hire an Anderson County Sheriff School Resource Officer because the district must also pay for that officer’s fuel, uniforms, retirement, health insurance and more.
“They rotate with SROs we already have. So we may have a security guard in the school one day and the SRO the next day,” said Newton.
Weeks said she feels uncomfortable not knowing who’s protecting her son on a given day.
“When you drop them off, you think that they’re safe, they’re in a safe place. You’re wanting to know exactly who’s keeping watch over them,” said Weeks.
Newton said the district selected Defender Services because most of its employees used to be in law enforcement or the military.
He said all the security guards the districts contract with take State Law Enforcement Division training and are recertified every year. He said Defender Services gives the guards additional training on working in a school.
Anderson School District 3 started using private company American Security in three of its schools this year.
Anderson School District 1, 2 and 4 and Greenville County Schools said they only use law enforcement officers in their schools.
A spokesman for the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office said he doesn’t know of any districts there that use private companies either.