Bats return to WPHS North Campus

Staff Writer

A pesky rodent that caused minor havoc during the first half of the second semester last year at the West Point High School’s North Campus has made a surprise return, forcing the school district to hire a contractor to try to remove them.

And an incident involving a student and a school resource officer last spring has been resolved, according to schools Superintendent Burnell McDonald.

“The district has contracted with a professional company to take care of that,” McDonald said via e-mail when asked about the bats that invaded the North Campus last January. School board Chairman Gene Brown offered more insight, saying the district brought in a contractor during spring break last March to seal holes in the building that allowed the bats to come and go. That took care of the problem after spring break, Brown said, but they recently returned.

“We thought the steps we took at spring break took care of the problem. We did it then so it wouldn’t be disruptive,” Brown said.

“But they’ve come back. We had to make an emergency contract this week and bring someone in the get rid of them before school starts,” Brown continued.

Several parents contacted by the Daily Times Leader said they were not aware of the bat problem last spring when their children were at either campus.

Two teachers said they didn’t know if parents were notified about the problem.

Telly Gandy, a former security officer with Champion Security who worked at the school until school leaders asked in early February that he be reassigned because they felt like he was talking too much about things happening in the building, told the Daily Times Leader the bats were “serious” problem right after students returned from the Christmas break.

“The month of January they were far worse,” he described.

He showed video taken by a student in early March of custodians using what appeared to be pool nets to try to catch the flying rodents while students were in the cafeteria eating lunch.

“They just killed them and threw them out the door,” Gandy said, claiming custodians frequently had to clean up bat excrement. “I don’t think it was very healthy.”

Gandy also said he complained of instances where he thought a school resource officer who actually works for the police department was overly rough with students. In one of those cases, a student was injured.

When asked about the allegations involving officer James Shelton, McDonald said, “Resource officers being rough with a student is an allegation that was dealt with earlier this school year.  We actually had a conference with the parent and SRO involved in the incident.  We are making every effort to provide a safe environment for all students. If there is something else that you are referring to please let me know.”

Brown said he was not aware of any reports involving rough handling of students. Mayor Robbie Robinson said although Shelton is a city employee, he has not been notified of any situation involving the officer that might have warranted a “discussion” or “disciplinary action.”

Gandy said he filed reports, kept daily logs as required by his company, and notified administrators and his superiors about the incidents he thought were improper. But he said he doesn’t know what happened to the documentation after he was reassigned from the school.

A Facebook post made Feb. 7, the day he was removed, received dozens of positive comments from students and parents praising him for his work.

"They said I was giving out information improperly. That was my job. All I was trying to do was show love to the students, that’s what they needed and appreciated,” added Gandy, who said he has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity claim concerning his issues.