11/02/04 — Board defends game cancellation

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Board defends game cancellation

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 2, 2004 2:01 PM

School board members said Monday night they stand by the decision to cancel Goldsboro High School's homecoming game after rumors surfaced about possible violence.

Several took issue with comments made by the Goldsboro City Council criticizing the decision, and one board member said safety was a bigger problem in the county than many are willing to admit.

The board backed the administration's decision, then unanimously approved a motion to pay for an ad in local newspapers to get the message out.

Board member Rick Pridgen said he typically chooses to "consider the source" when community leaders make comments but in this case feels the statements were "bold, derogatory, and incorrect," and had been made without first checking the facts.

Pridgen read from a letter he wrote about the situation.

"Councilmen Chuck Allen and Charles Williams stated that they believed the scheduled football game between Eastern Wayne High School and Goldsboro High School should have been played," he read. "These councilmen stated that the school officials overreacted."

In the letter, he wrote that Allen said the police should have been notified and involved in the decision. In addition to school administrators, school resource officers, who are Goldsboro police officers, were involved, Pridgen said.

"These informed professionals were forced to act in the safety interest of all involved," he said. "The time constraints were unfortunate.

"Though it may have been an untimely and unpopular decision, I believe the school administrators, the superintendent, and the school resource officer made the only possible decision that could have been made to ensure the safety of all attending the scheduled football game."

Pridgen said Williams had alluded to Homeland Security in his criticism of the school system's decision. He questioned what Williams' response would have been if no action had been taken based on the information that had been received.

"If some horrific act of violence had occurred, I suppose then your criticism would have been that the school officials should have called the game off," he wrote.

Board member Thelma Smith said she was at Goldsboro High for most of that day when decisions were being made.

"I know what an effort was put forth to try to make the right decisions," she said.

Her problem throughout this, she said, has been that people seem to think there is no problem. She said she has talked with city councilmen and told them that there have been serious problems before and since this incident.

"I don't feel safe," she said. "I live on a street where I thought I was pretty safe."

She said most of the public is unaware of all the cases of violence and drive-by shootings that are going on in the county.

"For folks to think we're making statements arbitrarily, calling them unfounded rumors, none are unfounded rumors," she said.

She said the Dillard Alumni building on Poplar Street has housed the Head Start day care program for 10 years. Recently, she said, they have had to move because of safety concerns for children during the daytime.

"People can stick their heads in the sand if they want to but there's still a problem there," she said.

Board member Shirley Sims said she cannot understand why anyone would have criticized the action that was taken.

"I don't know of anything else we could have done," she said.

"How many times have we been to conferences since Columbine, where all the principals questions said had they taken necessary precautions, it would not have happened?"