Lake Ridge school chief: ‘We’re caught in the crossfire’
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/648-3154 December 19, 2012 5:02PM
Johnson-Shirley, Sharon 2007 Dr. Sharon Johnson-Shirley Superintendent Lake Ridge Schools
Updated: January 21, 2013 3:59PM
Alarmed by an increase in violence in the community surrounding her Lake Ridge school district, Superintendent Sharon Johnson-Shirley plans to propose new safety measures at a 6 p.m. School Board meeting Thursday at the Lake Ridge administration center, 6111 W. Ridge Road.
On Tuesday, Johnson-Shirley said, Hosford Park Elementary students were taken off their school bus and told by Lake County police to return to school following a report of shots fired about 4:30 p.m. two blocks from the school at 4735 Arthur St. She said her teachers heard the shooting. Lt. Dan Murcheck said police told the school officials to send the children back into the school for their own safety. He said officers searched the area, but no arrests were made.S
“Last night, we were in a holding pattern at Hosford Park. Our kids didn’t go home till after 5 p.m.,” Johnson-Shirley said. There was a police presence at all Lake Ridge schools Wednesday. The district has one school in Gary and four in Calumet Township.
Also on Wednesday, Gary police came to Calumet High School after a 39-year-old man was shot and killed inside his mobile home across the street from the school. She said the man’s children attended Calumet.
While school security across the country has been heightened since the Dec. 14 school shootings in Newtown, Conn., Johnson-Shirley said she’s witnessed an increase in violence all year.
“We’re caught in the crossfire. There was a home shot up at 41st and Colfax on Sunday. We’re all hyped up about Connecticut, but this is home. Your heart goes out to the people in Connecticut, but my heart hurts for the people here.”
Johnson-Shirley said she’s concerned about drive-by shootings and gang activity. She’s spoken with Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram and Lake County Sheriff John Buncich.
“We are working together to make sure we have a police presence,” she said.
In October, the district hired a school resource police officer to patrol its schools.
“It’s getting larger than us. We’re trying to run a school and deal with the accountability. I believe safety is everybody’s responsibility,” she said.