Hearts are still heavy in Moss Point almost two weeks after a fight at Magnolia Middle School led to the death of a 12-year-old Lorel Malone. That was obvious at Tuesday night's school board meeting as parents and community members expressed their anger and frustration. Some are not satisfied with district efforts to promote non-violence and they want to see change.
"Our biggest problem right now is a breakdown in communication between kids, and/or parents and the kids, and/or the faculty. A lot of things could be stopped if you earn their [the kids'] trust," Moss Point resident Levi Sims II said.
Frustration and concern filled Moss Point High's auditorium as people stood before the school board and criticized the senseless violence in the district and talked about what should be done to stop it.
"There are too many young boys coming from single parent homes. We need to recruit male teachers to handle these young men," one person said.
Grandparent Katrina Viverette agrees. She said school district officials should also be more proactive in promoting non-violence and to not be lackadaisical when children report problems.
"We need to stop waiting until something happens and then you want to try and work and solve the problem," Viverette said.
This was the first time the community has gathered since Lorel Malone died two weeks ago during a fight at Magnolia Middle School. Some who attended even wore shirts with the boy's face to remember his life.
"It just hurt me to my heart that a child's life was taken. I don't know all the inside facts of it, but as parents and as educators we should be concerned," Carolyn Jennings said.
NAACP President Curley Clark told the board Tuesday night his organization is willing to go in the schools and volunteer to help protect and mentor students.
"What we are trying to do is have more of an adult presence to be in halls to hopefully let the children know that we are there to reinforce our love for them, and make sure they are in a safe environment that is conducive to learning," said Clark.
Several people who attended the meeting hope this tragedy is a wake up call for everyone to do what they can to help children stay focused on education and not fighting.
"We need to get everybody out and get involved. We don't need to just wait until something happens again for all of us to get out and be on this one accord. We need to keep this action rolling and help the school and community," said Viverette.
After the meeting, Moss Point Schools Superintendent Dr. Maggie Griffin said she was very pleased to see the community come out with ideas to support the district's students.
"I encourage parents and our neighbors to partner with us by joining PTOs, Moss Point Partners In Education Program, and P-16 Community Council. We need to join hands and tackle the future together," Griffin said.
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