Cobb parents press school board on security after shooting outside school

Despite criticism of McEachern High’s principal, Ragsdale defends her and says she’s staying
Cobb County police officers blocked an intersection behind McEachern High School as the authorities investigated a shooting in the parking lot of the Powder Springs school on Feb. 1, 2024. (Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Cobb County police officers blocked an intersection behind McEachern High School as the authorities investigated a shooting in the parking lot of the Powder Springs school on Feb. 1, 2024. (Miguel Martinez /

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said Thursday that Cobb County is “one of the safest school districts,” despite calls from parents for stronger security measures after two people were shot in a high school parking lot.

While parents from McEachern High School ask for more transparency about how the district plans to keep students safe, Ragsdale doubled down on the district’s typical response: that discussing some details about safety and security information publicly is a risk to safety and security.

Two people were shot in the parking lot of McEachern High during the school day on Feb. 1, causing a lockdown and prompting panic for parents and students. The victims, who were not students, were transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Three people, including one of the people shot, have since been arrested related to the case.

Sequoa Callaway, the parent of a McEachern High junior, was one of several parents to speak to the board about their concerns over safety at the school at a meeting on Thursday.

“It’s just extremely alarming and disheartening just to know that our children aren’t safe at their own school,” she said. “As parents, we kind of feel like we’re on the outside, and we really don’t know what’s being done — if anything’s being done at all.”

She and other speakers asked to know broad strokes about the district’s efforts to keep students safe.

In the weeks that followed the shooting, school board member Leroy “Tre’” Hutchins hosted two town hall meetings to discuss school safety and brainstorm solutions. He also detailed a policy change he had proposed in the fall that would implement “advanced high-tech security screening technology” at schools and add non-armed, civilian school safety officers to help monitor students.

At the board’s meeting Thursday, he attempted to add the proposed policy to the agenda, but was told there had not been enough notice.

Board member Leroy "Tre'" Hutchins, shown at a 2021 Cobb County school board meeting, has held two town halls to discuss school safety since the McEachern High School shooting on Feb. 1, 2024. (Christine Tannous / AJC file photo)

Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Credit: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ragsdale used his comments to dispel what he said were people’s attempts to “make up their own version of the truth” related to the event at McEachern.

Ragsdale emphasized that administrators at McEachern High did exactly what they were supposed to, despite some parents’ and students’ calls for the firing of Principal Regina Montgomery.

“Regina Montgomery was the principal of McEachern High School on Feb. 1, 2024, and acted according to policy and procedure,” he said. “Regina Montgomery is the principal of McEachern High School, and Regina Montgomery will continue to be the principal of McEachern High School.”

He directed those who are interested in learning about the district’s approach to safety and security to visit the website for the district’s police force.

Right before Ragsdale addressed the safety issue at Thursday’s meeting, the school board extended Ragsdale’s contract for another year, to 2027, in a 4-3 vote along party lines, with the Republican majority supporting the extension.

Earlier in the meeting, some of the public speakers wore T-shirts that said “No Confidence in Ragsdale.” Then while Ragsdale discussed the safety issue, he aimed a few comments at some previous criticism of the district’s safety policies. He was met with shouts to the extent that school board Chairman Randy Scamihorn asked officers to remove two people from the meeting room.

Ragsdale has served as superintendent since 2015. His annual compensation includes a $350,000 base salary, 25 vacation days, a 12% employer contribution to a retirement fund and other benefits. Thursday’s vote did not amend Ragsdale’s compensation package.