10/19/04 — Allen says schools over-reacted

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Allen says schools over-reacted

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on October 19, 2004 2:03 PM

Goldsboro Councilman Chuck Allen said Monday that he didn't think Friday's decision by school administrators to postpone a high school football game was wise.

"It upset me that they canceled the game, but didn't call the Police Department," Allen said.

School officials learned Friday that two groups, not affiliated with any schools, were threatening violence at the homecoming game scheduled to be held at Goldsboro High School.

School administrators then decided to postpone Friday night's game as a precautionary measure. It was held Saturday, with only parents of students allowed to enter.

Goldsboro High School Principal Pat Burden reported the threat of violence to the school's resource officer.

On Saturday, Ms. Burden told the News-Argus that she and other school officials planned to speak with the police chief this week about the threatened violence. She had said the decision was made to protect the safety of the students.

Councilman Allen said that rumors of gang activity and fights were rampant during the time of the Wayne County fair a few weeks ago.

"One day my kids came home and said there was going to be a huge gang fight at the fair on Friday," Allen said, shaking his head. "Of course they wanted to go so they could see it."

Allen said he immediately called Sheriff Carey Winders to tell him of the rumor.

"Carey said they had heard the same rumors, but nothing could be substantiated," Allen said. "But they were on the look out."

Councilman Charles Williams agreed that it was an over-reaction.

"How can we be strong on homeland security when we don't have the faith that we can protect our own high school football games?" Williams said.

Allen said he thought the situation had been "handled poorly" by the school system and hoped if there were similar concerns in the future, the school would consult the police before making a decision.

The council intends to write a letter to the school board about Friday's decision.

Kristy Fair, school spokesman, said time was a factor and a decision had to be made. "Mrs. Burden did her own investigation and found the threats to be credible. By the time she would have contacted police and they would have started to investigate, the game would have already started and it would have been too late."

A police investigation takes days, she said. The threat to the game involved a large number of people and a decision had to be made in a small amount of time. She said she did not know who the groups were except one was from outside Eastern Wayne and one from outside Goldsboro.

Mrs. Burden notified members of the school board and they supported her decision, said Ms. Fair.