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Parents considering school boycott if security isn’t improved

by Ricky TaylorMay 28, 2018

DICKINSON, Texas – Jimmy Mullins fears for his daughters’ safety when they go to school.

Mullins, like so many parents and children in America, are all too familiar with school shootings that have plagued America for nearly two decades. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Parkland. Mullins has grieved for them all.

But when a gunman killed 10 people and injured 13 others at Santa Fe High School on May 18, a mere 13 miles from Mullins’ home, fear struck the father of two harder than ever before. He felt a sense of urgency to protect his two girls.

Mullins, 40, is calling for a boycott of the 2018-19 school year at Dickinson Independent School District, where his daughters attend, if administrators don’t take a more proactive approach in protecting students.

“My goal is to stop the flow of guns and weapons that go into schools,” Mullins said. “What we’re doing right now is not working. I think we need to step back, stop all work—everything we’re doing—and get this situation fixed.”

Mullins has lived in Dickinson all his life—gone through the school system, graduated from Dickinson High School. Dickinson is a fairly quiet town found 30 miles off Interstate 45 from Houston, far enough away from the big city that Mullins said the town doesn’t have to deal with inner-city crime. The school district itself is also relatively safe in terms of violent crime, having arrested one student for bringing a gun to school in October 2017.

A KHOU 11 Investigates analysis in February showed there have been no other firearm-related incidents at the district from 2015, making it one of four local districts with one or fewer gun-related crimes on campus.

Regardless, Mullins worries that if security isn’t improved, not just at Dickinson ISD but all districts, schools are leaving themselves vulnerable to a shooting. So he and a team of Dickinson parents are fighting for metal detectors in their schools, fewer entry points and a review of all safety procedures. If changes aren’t made, they’re prepared to pull their children out of school and explore other options, such as homeschooling.

“I’m not fighting with the district; I am with the district,” Mullins said. “The one thing I think we all have in common amongst all these social issues is we love our kids and we want our kids safe.”

As part of Mullins’ effort to raise awareness for school safety, he’s reached out to the district, city and local leaders, as well as state officials asking for their support. He’s yet to receive any responses. (Dickinson ISD also has not responded to KHOU.com’s requests for comment.) In a previous statement issued by the school, officials said, “we will continue to work with law enforcement and school personnel to review our campus security procedures.”

Mullins’ oldest daughter, Jamie Coutorie, is a 17-year-old junior at Dickinson High School who welcomes the idea of metal detectors in schools. Coutorie said she mostly feels safe on campus, especially after threats are made or after school shootings when there’s an increased police presence.

But she called it a cycle that repeats itself because eventually everything goes back to normal until it happens again.

“We need to be safe in our schools. I don’t think we should have to worry about whether we’re going to be hurt,” Coutorie said. “We should just be able to focus on our education.”

Brandi Risinger is a mother of three—all of whom attend Dickinson ISD—whose love for her children radiates through her voice when she speaks of them.

She’s happy and upbeat when she speaks about her daughter’s graduation this past Tuesday, but her voice is cloaked in anger and frustration when she discusses school shootings and the fear of sending her children to school.

Risinger, 37, pulled her children out of classes for the remainder of the school year on Monday after numerous violent threats surfaced across various local districts, including nearby Clear Creek ISD, where a student was arrested for bringing an unloaded gun to school.

Risinger said it’s nothing against the Dickinson school district; rather, as she said, she doesn’t want to play a game of Russian roulette by sending her kids to school every day.

“Something has to be done,” she said. “For anybody that’s a human and has a heart, it should be very common sense: either take care of children and put them in a safe place or stop sending them where it’s dangerous.”

Mullins hopes that by Aug. 20—when Dickinson ISD’s 2018-19 school year begins—administrators will have made necessary changes that let him feel safe sending his daughters to school.

“A lot of people are going to have to make tough decisions,” he said. “We have to step out of the box, and if we all have to not go back to school, then that’s what we’re going to have to do.”

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