SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — An investigation is underway after a staff member at Sullivan Heights Middle School was reportedly stabbed. The response from Sullivan County Schools and the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office has some parents keeping their kids out of school.
News Channel 11 obtained an automated call from the Sullivan County School system on Tuesday morning. A message from Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski told parents that a staff member suffered stab wounds from an X-acto hobby knife but is doing well. In that message, Rafalowski said students were kept in place following the stabbing. No suspect has been identified and the school system says the staff member has not identified the person responsible.
Some Sullivan Heights parents said they’re not comfortable sending their kids back to school until they learn more. Meanwhile, a student said they wish there had been better communication during the hold.
“Usually whenever we’re put on like a hold — which is what teachers were telling us while we were on — they like resume learning,” said Rebecca Hager, an eighth-grader at Sullivan Heights Middle School. “We didn’t continue learning. We just sat there and waited and weren’t allowed to do anything. “
Hager said she was in gym class when the hold was put in place. She said she messaged her mom and other students in hopes of finding out what happened.
“I was nervous,” said Hager. “So of course, the first person I think to text is my mom, so she knows what’s happening.”
Hager’s mom, Rachal Frazier, said she didn’t hear from the school system until two hours after her daughter texted that they were on hold.
“I initially wanted to go get her, but I know being a hard lockdown, you can’t do that. It would cause more chaos and make the situation harder to deal with,” said Frazier. “And I assume that’s why they didn’t let everyone know about the situation until later to prevent anything interfering with what was going on at the school.”
Frazier initially sent Rebecca to school Tuesday, but when information came out about the stabbing, she decided to take her home for the day.
“I hate to have her miss school, but it’s scary,” said Frazier. “I don’t know if I’ll be sending her to school until we find out at least that someone’s in custody, or the situation is handled and safe for kids to return to school.”
Other parents said they feel the same way.
“It’s an unexcused note that I will have to write a parent note for, which to me is not right,” said Stefanie Stayton, another Sullivan Heights parent. “These kids are scared for their own safety because they don’t know any more than we know.”
Stayton said she’s disappointed by the communication from the school system and Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.
“We don’t need to know the specifics,” said Stayton. “We just need to know what happened and that they are handling the situation and have taken care of whatever has happened from whoever might have done this.”
Stayton said she became more concerned when she went to pick up her son this morning.
“I am wondering why there’s no more security at the school today than there has been when I picked up my son; there’s one SRO officer there,” said Stayton.
The situation also raised concerns for parents at Rock Springs Elementary which sits on the same campus.
“I got no phone calls at all,” said Taylor Thomas, a Rock Springs Elementary parent. “I feel very let down by the school system. You can’t expect us to send our kids to school after sending a message out saying, hey, one of our teachers got stabbed. We have no idea who did it and they’ve not been detained.”