NEW MARKET, Ala. - Parents sent WHNT News 19 pictures of a leaky ceiling, cracked tiles, and what appears to be mold at New Market School. Those parents fear that more than just their children's health is at risk.
The New Market School PTO President is concerned about the school's accessibility and security. She went through several channels to express her frustration before taking it to the school board. On Tuesday night, Megan Tyler presented concerns to the Madison County School Board.
"In today's society with the latest tragedy today in Maryland we have open-air walkways that our students must travel to be able to go to the lunch room or to check out a library book," Tyler said to the school board.
The mother begged the school system to take these concerns seriously.
"At New Market, we don't have an airlock. Our parents when they come in, and our visitors, they have straight access to our kids," Tyler explained.
Parents reached out to WHNT News 19 claiming New Market School was an unhealthy environment, and they didn't feel as though their children were safe. We listened and went to Madison County Schools Superintendent Matt Massey for answers on Wednesday. Massey says the upgrades to school security are taking place through the capital plan.
"Bigger projects require board approval. To build corridors, so students aren't walking outside to go to lunch or walking outside to the library. Those are things that the board gets involved in and approves, and we design and build as a major project," explained Massey.
Following our interview with Superintendent Massey, we caught up with several parents outside of New Market School. As we were finishing up with the parent interviews, Massey called one of the parents.
Matt Massey: "The information that you presented to board member Bates was never presented to us. She was unprepared for that."
Megan Tyler: "I apologize that she was unprepared for that. That was not the intent."
Matt Massey: "Yeah, she was unprepared because we were not prepared. So, I'm just saying the effectiveness of what you're doing is not effective. This is not a way to get what you want. I'm not sure if you're trying to get the principal fired.
Megan Tyler: "No we're trying to get our school fixed."
Matt Massey: "Saying things like you can just walk in the building, that's a dangerous thing. That's basically if somebody is looking to terrorize a school they're now going to target New Market because of that comment. And I don't appreciate that. That was irresponsible."
Megan Tyler: "It would be nice to have it fixed then."
The entire phone call lasted more than six minutes.
We reached out to Tim Hall, the spokesperson for Madison County Schools regarding the phone call. He sent us this statement:
"The Superintendent was unaware media and parents were on school property. As far as Administration is concerned, this is a huge safety issue.
Emotions run deep when we are talking about school safety. Yes, the Superintendent was emotional in his conversation with this parent. The Superintendent doesn't want, nor will he allow, anyone to put any of our students, teachers or staff in jeopardy when it comes to access to our schools or the safety of students.
As for the safety/building issues mentioned earlier, they've all been addressed and we look forward to funding from the single largest capital plan in the history of the Madison County School System. This plan will bring about significant changes at New Market School and most every other school in our district."
WHNT responded to that statement asking for clarification regarding the accessibility of New Market Schools. Hall responded to our request by saying:
"First, yes, we are looking into multiple programs to enhance safety at all our campuses. We discussed one a week ago today. Those plans are still in the works but safety will be a huge part of our capital improvement plan we have already set money aside, in addition to our capital plan, to continue enhancing our security efforts. We do NOT discuss those at it is not prudent to state what you are doing. Those are kept private to keep students, teachers and all staff as safe as possible. It's not rational to discuss how we operate our safety plans.
Regarding New Market School:
The doors at New Market School are locked and remain locked. You can only access the locks with a badge. THE CAMPUS IS SECURE. EVERY SINGLE DOOR.
And it is dangerous for anyone, media or anyone in the community, to suggest that it is NOT. That's been our biggest concern with these allegations. Statements that have been made appear to invite someone to try get on the New Market Campus. We do not condone that behavior.
Again, at New Market School, the access is through the front door. Yes, you can walk out a door but it safety locks behind you when you leave.
Again, it is dangerous to falsely spread information this campus is not safe. That statement is NOT ACCURATE.
No, we will not be doing a walkthrough of the building.
Thank you for your interest in the Madison County School System."
The Madison County School district repeatedly denied our requests to take a walkthrough of the school building.