Pugh’s statement echoed one issued by Gwinnett County Superintendent Calvin Watts after Norcross High School student DeAndre Henderson was shot and killed off-campus during the school day last week. Watts emphasized that students involved would face tribunals in the discipline system and criminal charges as appropriate.
“Any student involved in violence or threats of violence at our schools will face consequences,” Watts said.
Pugh turned attention to the community, asking people to help make Gwinnett safer.
“Working together, we must help our young people understand that we, the adults in their lives, at school, at home, and in the community, are united and that violence and bad behavior have no place in the Grayson High community,” Pugh said.
The district has faced scrutiny recently over discipline policies and student behavior. Leaders have been adjusting their approach to discipline, turning to relationship-focused restorative practices and attempting to reduce the amount of students removed from class. In recent years, Gwinnett has sent more students to alternative schools than the Atlanta, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton districts combined despite having less than half the student population.
At a recent school board meeting, parents, students and teachers said the changes implemented have not worked. Some described students feeling unsafe and others feeling emboldened to misbehave.
In the days since that meeting, Gwinnett schools have seen a number of disturbing incidents.
After school Oct. 21, a student was arrested on accusations he fired a gun near Shiloh High School.
Brookwood High School was locked down Oct. 26 — the same day that Henderson was killed — due to a false report posted on social media that someone was inside the school with a gun.