The Duncan Banner

August 23, 2013

Classrooms empty on second day

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Only 53 percent of Duncan Public Schools’ 3,763 students attended class Wednesday, after administrators offered an excused absence because of an anonymous threat made toward Duncan High.

Just 230 of the high school’s 984 students — or 23 percent — were in attendance.

“Our enrollment was affected yesterday (Wednesday),” Superintendent Sherry Labyer said. “We knew it was going to be. The elementary schools were affected yesterday, but not to the degree the high school was.”

Next to the high school, the Duncan Middle School had the second largest absentee rate. Of the 743 students enrolled in the middle school, only 425 (57 percent) of students were in attendance.

Students were given permission by Duncan Public Schools to miss school Wednesday if the threat of possible violence made parents uneasy. The absences were excused and will be waived, Labyer said. All of the schools promoted closed campuses, which meant high school students couldn’t leave for lunch and elementary students couldn’t go outside for recess.

And the impact was noticeable across the district, Labyer said, noting the high number of absences. Of the 3,763 students enrolled in Duncan Public Schools, only 1,994 students attended school Wednesday.

Wednesday attendance for the elementary schools included 307 of 449 students at Emerson, 322 of 471 students at Horace Mann, 128 of 198 at Mark Twain, 199 of 323 at Plato, 212 of 321 at Woodrow Wilson and 171 of 274 at the pre-kindergarten centers.

Labyer said there might have been low attendance, but the school district took care to ensure the safety and well-being of all Duncan students who did attend school Wednesday. There were seven police officers on the high school campus and one on the middle school campus. Other officers were patrolling the elementary schools.

“The teamwork in Duncan schools yesterday (Wednesday) should make parents take great comfort,” Labyer said. “The community can be proud of all the people employed in the school district. Everybody felt it was their responsibility to take care of the kids.

“Duncan Police Department has walked with us every step of the way. I know (the officers’) plates are full. Not only have they worked with us, but they have followed up. This has been an amazing partnership with that great group of people. The community should feel safe.”

Three officers were on the high school campus while school was in session Thursday at the school district’s request. Assistant Superintendent Rodney Calhoun said a conversation he had with Lt. Rick Lang of the Duncan Police Department revolved around children being among the priorities of the department.

“Rick Lang said children are the No. 1 concern,” Calhoun said.

Labyer and Calhoun said Thursday went smoothly for Duncan Public Schools.

“We were over at the high school this morning, and we watched as they got off the bus,” Labyer said. “They looked like they were happy to be back at school. They looked safe.”