Only on FOX23: A teacher speaks on the violence in Tulsa schools

TULSA, Okla. —

UPDATE (02/14; 6:11 p.m.) —

Tulsa Public Schools provided a statement to FOX23 after the story aired on Monday, Feb. 13.

Our Campus Police, school teams, and district staff work closely together to ensure that we have strong safety practices in place district-wide. School teams also have the flexibility they need to design the safety plans and protocols that best fit their unique school communities. Some of the safety protocols used at our secondary schools include random and non-random bag searches, wanding as students enter the building, or the use of clear backpacks.

Our schools implement the above safety practices regularly throughout the district. Additionally, when a school experiences social media threats, weapons on campus, or other situations that impact the overall safety of the school, it is not unusual to have heightened safety protocols in place during the following days.

We have protocols in place that we follow to respond in the event that school teams receive information that a student has a weapon at school. Depending on the situational context, that response may include the following:

  • Implementing a modified or full lockdown of the school building; and
  • Isolating the student away from their peers and completing a weapon search.

If a weapon is found on the student, we would take appropriate disciplinary action based on our Behavior Response Plan.

It is important to know that students who bring weapons, drugs, or make social media threats to school can face incredibly serious consequences, including arrest and criminal charges. Students who bring guns to school will be arrested and charged, without exception.

In the event that students are involved in physical altercations, our guidance to teachers and support professionals is - as long as they can do so safely - to use de-escalation techniques and/or intervene. Team members also follow school protocol when there is an altercation for which they require support. The protocol for additional support includes contacting the front office and, as needed, may include assistance from our Campus Police team. As with weapons incidents, we take appropriate disciplinary action based on our Behavior Response Plan.

The best tool we have to keep schools safe is prevention. We encourage our students, families, and community to always report safety incidents or concerns to our safety hotline by calling or texting 918-480-SAFE. Our hotline is staffed around the clock and calls can be made anonymously and confidentially.

A Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) teacher is blowing the whistle on the violent and dangerous environment they have witnessed in schools.

The teacher said they are employed at a TPS school and know of a certain student’s violent history.

That student is Ja’Cori Whitmore, a 15-year-old who was recently arrested for the shooting and killing of Broken Arrow teen Dacari Green.

They said Whitmore assaulted a teacher at Hale Middle School and believes if the school took more action addressing that type of behavior, maybe he wouldn’t be where he is now, arrested for first-degree murder.

“Now that we find out that Ja’Cori has been arrested, allegedly for first degree murder, I think there’s some justification there to think … maybe more should have been done,” they said.

The teacher claimed they have seen weapons brought into school and have heard of gang members recruiting students right outside campus. They even said, once, one student carried in bullets while another carried in a gun.

When asked how they feel being in that type of dangerous environment, they said they are frightened.

“I mean, literally, I’m afraid for my safety,” they said. “I’m afraid for other people who work there, their safety. It’s something that I think about when I’m there every day.”

Despite not wanting anything horrible to happen, they said, they can’t help but think the students are beginning to realize how easy it is to bring a weapon into school.

When there is a violent incident, TPS sends out an email but little action is taken, they said.

“I mean, I do think someone’s going to get killed at school,” they said. “I think there will be a school shooting. I think there’s enough evidence showing that there are weapons in school and I think something crazy is going to happen.”

They said they wish to see TPS hire more staff who can handle discipline and have armed security on campus.

“I think school becomes the one constant and we should, as a school system, be more accountable and responsible for this kind of behavior,” they said.