It’s every parent’s American nightmare down at Pasadena’s Blair IB campus this afternoon.
South Marengo Avenue is closed off by yellow police tape, and about a hundred parents (and not a few media types) are milling around, occasionally catching a glimpse of a classroom full of teens being marched out of the A building and down toward the gym and field .
It’s all because of what one parent called “a third-hand rumor” that a student had been seen this morning on the campus with a gun.
So each classroom was locked down, and police are searching each of about 1,200 students individually before releasing them. The AP said the kids are being released to parents but I only saw the students being taken down Marengo Avenue and no parent I spoke with by 2:30 had taken possession of a kid.
It’s taking so long that the TV helicopters that filled the air space above Marengo and Glenarm have pretty much gone home by now.
While they’re grateful that no one has been hurt, parents are seriously p.o.ed at anything and everything as the day marches on.
Many are glad that they allow their kids to break district rules and carry cell phones to school. Signals penetrate even what I always thought of as the cell block of the main building when I was a Blair student in the early 1970s, and when the kids can get to their phones, they report back to the parents milling about on Marengo that everything is OK.
There is very little information forthcoming from authorities — perhaps there’s just little to say. When longtime PUSD administrator George McKenna tried to address the concerned crowd, he spoke too quietly for anyone to hear, and parents in the back were miffed. Then when he indicated that there was nothing to be worried about — an understandable-enough attempt to calm nerves — a woman standing next to me hollered, “Is that Dr. McKenna?” I told her that it was. “That man’s got too much sense to be saying something like that,” she said. “I cannot believe I’m hearing that.”
Friends of mine in the crowd who have students at Blair — either on the middle school campus east of Marengo or the main campus on the other side of the street — told me that there have been several violent incidents on campus in recent weeks that the administration has tried to downplay. One particularly violent day in which there were a number of what were termed “girl fights” and a student assault on a dean that ended up with him having a bloody head was referred to in a blast recorded call home to parents as “shenanigans.”
“I’m Irish,” my friend said. “I know what shenanigans are. Those aren’t shenanigans.” She said that after today’s mess is over she will contemplate over the weekend a serious notion she’s been having: home schooling her kids, with herself as the teacher.
There are too many guns in our society. Too many of those too many are in the hands of kids. Too many of those kids are gang-bangers, who will spray a crowded bus stop, shooting nine or so people he doesn’t know, because a couple of people he does know and is mad at are in the crowd as well. Our collective urban family is dysfunctional. Who will stop the reign — of violence, of threatened violence, of parents who know not what their kids are doing, with whom they hang, with what weapons in their jeans?