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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Parents of students at West Bladen High School met tonight to discuss student safety in their school in relation to an incident that happened on campus last month. In November, there was at least one fight on campus that some people suspected was gang related. Thursday night, the school board said that was not the case, but some parents still disagree.

It’s here and we got to deal with it,” said concerned grandmother Glenda Lennon. “We got to find a way to deal with it.”

Lennon says her three grandsons were involved in the November incident at the school. She says when she spoke to the school’s principal, Toni Warrick, she said the incident was related to gang activity.

“She says she thought it was gang related because of the other boys that were involved,” said Lennon.

When asked about gang activity at the school on Thursday, Warrick said the kids involved in the groups call themselves “gangs” but she does not think they are like what people typically think of.

Greg Sykes says his daughter is a junior at West Bladen. He says she has never said anything about feeling unsafe at school.

“She comes here every morning and she has never told us once that she feels unsafe,” said Sykes.

Bladen County Superintendent Robert Taylor says the incident that has some parents concerned about gangs was blown out of proportion.

“We did have an altercation at the school, like schools have every day and we dealt with that by putting in a disciplinary action,” said Taylor. “Now, we’re not going to say that it was an incident that involved gangs fighting at the school. That was not the case. But there was an incident and we put in a disciplinary action and I really can’t say more than that because it does involved students.”

Overall, most parents at the meeting seemed confident that the administration at the school had the situation under control. Parents agree though that more parents need to be involved with their children. They believe that may help solve some of the problems.

We attempted to speak with Toni Warrick about the situation but she declined to comment.

Comment on this Story

  • pbb

    if it was not gang related why would Mrs Warrick decline to talk.
    What does anyone expect of a principal that has a pic of hetself half nude in a bathing suit
    Showing off her muscular build from body compotitions. “GO FIGURE”

  • non-affiliated

    A student is gunned down at Cape Fear HS in Fayetteville. Law enforcements response, “don’t believe she was the target, not gang related”.

    A fight breaks outs at West Bladen HS and the law enforcements respnse, “not gang related”.

    Does this sound like MOST law enforcement and school higher ups are “trained” to give the same answer?

    What is it going to take for the truth to finally come out about what is going on in our schools? Did West Bladen’s principal misspeak when she said the incident “was related to gang activity”?

    Will this precious grandmother of three students at West Bladen have to sacrifice one of her grandson’s before this “gang situation” finally is uncovered? All parents and grandparents of students certainly hope not.

    One thing is for sure, the law enforcement and school officals had better start tying to get to the bottom of this “gang activity” in our schools before a tradgedy happens.

    Something as a simple interview with each high school student might be a good starting point. Only one question to start with, Do you know or have reason to believe that there is gang related activity on your campus? No names taken. I would venture to say that better then 50% of the answers would be in the affirmative. Then it would be time for anyone in law enforcement or among school officials who know one iota about gangs to go into action and root this activity out of our schools, our county, our state, and our nation.

    The time is now, our students deserve an answer.

  • GuestParent

    I attended a presentation by a Brunswick County Deputy who said that out of the students in the middle schools alone, 35% or so could name a gang member. The students are the key to getting the information.

  • GuestLEO

    Just because they are not Bloods or Crips, does not meant hey are not a legitimate gang. Gangs take on all forms and this one sounds like what’s known as a hybrid. Legal definition in NC is “Three or more persons who share common name, sign, colors, or symbols and participate in criminal activity.” If these kids fit that definition, then guess what, it’s a gang. It amazes me that people still want to put their heads in the sand and pretend there isn’t a problem. The more you ignore it, the more it will spread. However, no one wants to put in the effort or money to support prevention programs. Programs like DARE and GREAT aren’t perfect, but they do at least put forth an effort and therefore should be supported. Until everyone stops being afraid of the word or idea of “gangs” then they will continue to be popular and continue to get away with it.

  • Guest23569

    I don’t know anything about this situation and names have not been released, so maybe it wasn’t gang related.

    But, to say there is no gang problem is absurd. There is a gang problem in every high school in America. In the last 2 years, West Bladen had many confirmed gang related fights including a stabbing and a shooting in the parking lot. Most of these stories were covered right here on WWAY. So, I guess we are to assume all of those students have left since there is no gang problem. Very unlikely! But even if they did leave, they have other brothers, sisters, and “homies”. Many of the gangs include the entire family, even including the parents! Also, they continually recruit middle school students to replace the older ones who end up in jail or dead. It’s their way of life!

  • ruthfen

    It is sad to say the administration denies gang activity. We know that recruitment starts in elementary and is full blown by the time they enter high school. When Mr. Roland T McKoy was Superintendent of Bladen County Schools there was a male figure that the whole community knew and respected. These young people knew that when they saw Mr. Mckoy that things were going to be taken care of and he not only did his administrative job, but he cared for the welfare of the students first. He also knew if the parents and the community worked together that problems that are arising now would not have taken place. If you bring a stranger in your home things are always going to fall apart because he doesn’t care for it like you do. Thats what happened when Berry Lewis and the Bladen County Board members did when they went outside of the county to hire some one else. As Long as Mr. McKoy was Superintendent anything looked like it could be gang related was not in effect. Bladen County Board Chairman Berry Lewis, Ophelia Munn, and otherss were responsible for this. Their greatest concern was there own ambition and not the welfare of the children.

  • bob

    There was not a single applicant from Bladen County that would have been a successful fit as Superintendent of Schools. Sorry that is the fact, but in reality most educators in the county are from Bladen County and look at the test scores, graduation rates, and drop out rates. Looking outside of the county was the only answer that there was. Kudos to Mr. McKoy, I truly enjoyed working for him and you hit the nail on the head with your comments about him. Also, Berry Lewis and Ophelia Munn should have nothing to do with education, all they do is meddle in success and claim it as their own.

  • bob

    Here is the solution: There may be a few students who truly think that they are gang members. Find out who they are and long term suspend them from school or send them home with a laptop to complete their courses online. The others who may think that they are gang members will fall into line when they see this happen. Furthmore, the administration, teachers, and staff, have to be trained to build relationships with all members of the student body. The best athletes and the honor roll students often have a stable homelife and roll models to look up to. Teachers need to embrace all students and let them now that they are appreciated and cared for. This is essential for school success. Lastly, the administration needs to quit belittling your best teachers and staff members or West Bladen will continue to lose great educators to surrounding counties.

  • Guest2121

    I find it hard to belive that the administration at West Bladen is belittling the best teachers and staff members. The harsh reality is most probably the administration has identified substandard teachers and is attempting to either improve them or remove them from education all together (that is a part of their job). The administration needs and wants West Bladen to succeed. The actions you are describing would not be supportive of that goal. However, removing substandard teachers who CANNOT improve would be supportive of that goal and makes much more sense. It’s quite possible that some of these individuals are in denial of the truth. And in all actuality the school, students and community would be better off without substandard teachers. It seems that the majority of teachers support the current administration. That would not be indicative of the environment you are describing. So, maybe these self viewed “great educators” should move on to surrounding counties and allow West Bladen to progress and move forward in the best interest of the students.

  • Thankful

    As a New Hanover taxpayer, I am thankful that Bladen County allowed our school system to get our hands on Mr. Finn, our new principal at New Hanover High. It is interesting to see the change in our children’s school already, and the ironic thing is that Mr. Finn has said on the record that he wants to approach NHHS like he approached West Bladen…so he had to be pretty good there. At first we were skeptical because what would he know about a big school, no offense to Bladen County. But it didnt matter. Things are not perfect, and I don’t think there is a such thing. But if the school that I drop my children off at each day is any indication as to how West Bladen was when Mr. Finn was there, we owe Bladen County a big THANK YOU. I was never one to believe that a principal could make such a difference, but when my children come home with smiles on their faces, excitement about the next day, good grades and a fresh outlook on life, I can see where a new principal can really make a big difference. I hope upon hope that Bladen County is able to right the ship because all kids deserve a great school to go to. All schools probably have kids who are in gangs, and ours is no different I am sure. But I am beginning to believe it is the way the principal addresses the kids and these issues that makes or breaks a school. We are thankful for Mr. Finn, and if Bladen County taught him what he is doing for us, we owe Bladen a thank you, as well.

  • Guest2121

    Ahhhhhhh….and there it is….the oh so expertly timed Finn endorsement…..rising like the mythical Phoenix…….hilarious….yes, it is the loss of Finn which is causing this and only the Great Finn can save us?!?!?!?! Wait; don’t the stats show there have been NO MORE incidents of violence this year than during the same time frame last year at WBHS? YES!! And in some cases they were even less for this year than compared to last year under the great Finn!!! But that can’t be!!! I wonder if there will be allegations of cheating on EOG’s by the Administration this year as there were when Finn was at WBHS??? Ah, only time will tell.

  • This board has really batted 1000, let’s see, hired a superintendent that lied about things and wasted many dollars of tax payer’s money.
    Then made a interm superintendent out of Mr. McKoy, who did a super job only to go outside the county and get themselves a new flunkie causing a good man, Mr. Mckoy, to retire, again wasting many dollars of tax payer’s money doing a search for a new super. If Mr. McKoy was good enough for it as an interm, wasn’t he good enough for it period? Then some of the board members spend thousands of dollars on a trip with family members and when they were ask about paying it back nothing was done, (special thank you to Mr. Duckworth for bringing this to light) then they had the best principal, Mr. Finn, that anyone could ask for and they let Ophelia Munn run him off because he was making his school better than her’s. What the members of this board is way worse than meddle, it’s unjust and most likely illegal. Mr. Lewis and company really don’t meddle in success or claim it as their own, look at what we now have, there is no success to claim unless you call going backwards something to claim. The principal we now have is allowing the school to get as bad as it was when Mrs. Beatty was there, who by the way was given a better job at the central office as a reward, by this board, for her total failure as a principal.
    My child has only this year to complete at West and it, thanks to this sorry board, has been quite a roller coaster ride, first a sorry principal and sorry superintendent and unsafe school, followed by good ones and safe school, only to now be back as bad as it was his first two years. Hope we make it until June and then no more.
    Elections are coming around next year for about half of this sorry bunch, VOTE everyone of them out, put someone new in, no matter who it is, it can’t get any worse.

  • Guest2121

    In response to your comment: “The principal we now have is allowing the school to get as bad as it was when Mrs. Beatty was there” The statistics show there have been no more incidents of violence at WBHS this year than there were last year (under Finn) during the same time period (beginning of school year to 30 Nov). So, before you start talking about how bad the school is getting you might want to have your facts straight.

  • GuestTell the truth

    Hey, there it is again! Someone quoting statistics that are not public and comparing them to last year. Wonder who that could be! All I know is that if anyone walked in that school last year and then walked in this year, they would see a difference for the worst. My kids hate going to school now. They loved it a year ago. Those are the only statistics anyone needs.

  • tar heel

    Well when you take GOD out of the schools you invite the devil in .

  • Agreed

    I agree. God has been left out of the school, and power hungry politicians are ruining them. So they hire a leader they can manipulate, and the school struggles. Bring God back to school, educate the children as to what is truly right and wrong, and educate the soul. Perhps then, God fearing leaders will want to come back to the schools. Rght now, the best ones are in the private schools, where God is welcomed.

  • Thanks

    Well, obviously you misunderstood my sentiment. Clearly, you have an issue with this man who did a great job for your county, from what I have seen and read. We are very happy with what we have, and I was simply pointing out that I hope you find someone who can do for your school what Mr. Finn is doing for us. Best wishes.

  • Sigh.

    Whoever wrote that comment took a cheap shot at the school, but that is not the first time it happened this year. Sadly, it was probably one of our own based on the sarcasm and jabs at our former principal. It Would be nice if the whole story was told, so please read on from someone who was actualy there. A board member from anoter district saw the vast improvements, then called the state to request an investigation. This board member claimed that she heard from someone that the students had study guides that looked like the EOC tests. The poster is accurate in saying that they did respond by following up with an investigation. As the poster of this hate filled comment failed to inform, they completely cleared West Bladen. A letter was presented to the board clearing the school. To my knowledge, no apology was issued by the board member. And the study guides? They were actually from the State’s web site, called ” released items”, and completely fair game for any school, parent, or student to use. It is sad when someone has to resort to half truths to make a point. Very sad. Especially considering the obvious source.

  • Yeah but

    The difference is not in the number of incidents between last uear and this. The difference is in how they were handled. Mr. Finn was upfront and honest with parents, which is all we ask for. This year, we were lied to and told that nothing happened. So I would say that before any comparisons are made, let’s be up front and honest, Ms. Warrick. That would be a great start. Parents dont expect miracles. But we do expect you to be honest with us. If you want to make things better, stop bashing Mr. Finn and move on.

  • Tell the truth!

    Any takers that this post was written by someone on the administration at West Bladen? This and the one bashing last years principal. Talk about sour grapes! Someone really seems to have a complex!

  • Guest2121

    After seeing comments from all on here I can only say one thing….look at the number of Principal’s that WBHS has had since it was opened. Nobody seems to stay very long….and after seeing the comments from this post and others, I can only advise Mrs. Warrick to leave WBHS as fast as she possibly can and allow this dysfunctional community to find someone willing to put up with them. The bad thing is the school isn’t nearly as bad as you would like to make it out to be, nor is the staff. However, all of you are the problem….
    You don’t know how the school was left by Finn and what she and the staff had to do to fix things. You haven’t given her a chance to make anything better at WBHS….only second guess and degrade her every action (and contrary to what some of you may think…there are MANY who are very happy to have her at WBHS). You have sensationalized incidents this year which occurred last year and weren’t brought up at all. Some gave her a hard time during the football season for keeping the head coach around…then when the decision was made between he and the administration that it was best for him to move on you rode her for running a good man off. Good man or not, WBHS had a failing football program and MANY were asking for improvement. You can’t have it both ways…you can’t demand the guy be removed and then complain when he is. You can’t complain because metal detectors are not used and then complain when they are and use it as evidence that the school is unsafe. You can’t complain because there are substandard teachers and then degrade her actions to improve or remove those substandard teachers from the school. You can’t complain because Finn supposedly ran the old basketball coach and then demand Mrs. Warrick hire a quality basketball coach then complain about who she hired…the man was clearly a quality candidate and seems to be doing a very good job. And lastly, you can’t show favoritism to or pander to certain parents or students because of who they are or who they know…everyone has to be treated the same…this is something else about Mrs. Warrick which seems to have ruffled some feathers….oh well.
    Again, Mrs. Warrick….leave WBHS as fast as you can and let these people fight all this out amongst themselves!!!


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