Dain Butler, Alamance-Burlington School System superintendent, issued a one-minute video announcing a zero-tolerance policy for possession of weapons, assault on staff and adults, gang related fights and possession and distribution of illegal substances.

The video, sent out on ABSS social media, including Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram, on Sept. 16, states that these offenses will result in “long-term suspension and possibly expulsion.”

Butler’s announcement followed three threats earlier that week. On Sept. 15, a bomb threat at Smith Elementary School resulted in an evacuation. According to the ABSS Twitter, the situation was cleared by police and students resumed classes soon after. Also on Sept. 15, according to the ABSS Twitter, a student threatened violence with a weapon at Turrentine Middle School, though no weapon was found. On Sept. 16, before the video was posted, there was a “soft lockdown” at Eastern Alamance High School after a report of a gun on campus, but again, no gun was found. 

“We can do better than this, and we will do better,” Butler said in the video. “I hope that next week, and all the weeks following, will be better. Our community deserves my attention to this matter, and I appreciate your support on this as we move forward this school year.”

On Sept. 22, the administration became aware of a threatening text message sent by a student and a BB gun confiscated at Eastern Alamance before school started, according to a post on the ABSS Facebook page

Tammy Wilson attended the ABSS Board of Education meeting on Sept. 26. She and her husband, Doug, favor the zero-tolerance stance because they have a child in high school.

“They’re quite scary,” Tammy said. “You know, things have changed and times have changed, but they’ve got to have a zero-tolerance policy. And these kids need to know that it’s gonna be zero-tolerance.”

Butler started his position in July and wants to be clear on where he stands on these issues, according to ABSS Public Information Officer Les Atkins. 

“We’re not going to tolerate violence or even things that might be considered as joking,” Atkins said. “Oftentimes, students will post things on social media or text one another or things like that, but these can all lead to disruptions in the learning environment in the school setting.”

Atkins said it is up to the principal and school resource officers to decide what happens after a threat is made, but that the law is clear about the consequences of weapons on campus. According to the North Carolina General Assembly, under 14-269.2, it is a felony to bring or fire a firearm on school property, and a misdemeanor to bring a BB gun or knives on campus. 

“Our team is remaining visible and vigilant at all of our schools in regards to student safety,” Atkins said. “We want students to wake up every day and … feel safe when they walk into our buildings.”

Atkins said the best way to deter this behavior is to have parents talk to their children about the seriousness of these offenses. 

“We want families to help us by talking with their children,” Atkins said, “encouraging them about the seriousness of these matters if a student is involved in making a threat, whether verbal, written or electronic.”