No recess for Lincoln Heights students for the rest of the school year

SHARONVILLE, Ohio -- The Princeton City School District held its ground Monday, meaning the lockdown at Lincoln Heights Elementary School will stay in effect until the end of the school year.

Safety matters keep the lockdown in force, so students no longer take outdoor recess or attend after school activities. They see more police officers in and around the school.

School officials met with concerned parents Monday evening. Even through an hour of pleading and some tears shed, parents could not convince the school board to lift the indefinite lockdown at Lincoln Heights.

"I'm trying to calm down because this is important, and if you all do this we have nothing … we have nothing," resident Cynthia Shamel said.

Superintendent Gary Pack believes there is too much crime in the area to loosen up on the school's security. He tried to reason with parents at the meeting and explained that within the past year, 23 crimes were committed on the elementary school's campus. Between vandalism, drug use, arson, sexual activity and shootings, Pack said children are safer inside during the school day.

"What we're trying to do is find a compromise where kids can come and be safe, and teachers and staff can come and feel the same," he said. "Right now the lockdown is providing those parents who didn't show up tonight - that silent majority - relief that their child is safe at school. That's what we're hearing from those folks who didn't show up tonight."

RELATED: School placed on semi-permanent 'lockdown' due to uptick in violence

At full capacity, Lincoln Heights would hold 440 students. The school is educating only 180, and Pack said parents are sending 40 percent of students who should attend Lincoln Heights to other schools in the district.

"The community has to stand up and (dig) their feet in the ground and say, 'We're tired of this. We're not going to accept this kind of behavior anymore,'" he said.

Before Monday's meeting began, parents told WCPO reporter Tony Mirones that the Lincoln Heights campus is too quiet with the lockdown in effect. They said the sounds of kids at recess are missing - those of playful screams, games of tag and bouncing balls.

Parents said youth belong on a playground, and the natural sounds of playtime help keep the entire community young.

Jalani Barham has a son in the third grade at Lincoln Heights.

"Recess is an essential part of those elementary school children's school day," Barham said. "It's not a big problem to me if they feel like it's the safest thing for the kids. If anything I want my kids to be safe."

The school district said officials will monitor any criminal activity that happens near Lincoln Heights Elementary School while the lockdown stays in place.

WCPO reporter Jason Law attended Monday's meeting and spoke with the superintendent and parents of Lincoln Heights.



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