The time has long passed for accountability at Maumelle High School and Maumelle Middle School. To say that events have gotten out of hand is an understatement.

Schools today are much more violent places that they’ve ever been.

That’s a reflection of our society and not necessarily the problems of the principal and teachers at the school. As far as we can tell, new principal Becky Gutherie is doing a good job — but she apparently needs a lot more help than she’s getting — a whole lot more.

Every week we read and hear stories about students making bomb threats, pulling fire alarms and starting violent fights like the one Tuesday which resulted in a teacher trying to break up the fight being hurt.

Such a bomb threat is never just a schoolhouse prank.

When such a call goes out — firefighters and policemen come running into the danger of the scene.

It would be too easy just to dismiss the threats as false because all it takes is one time for it to be real for many people to get hurt.

On Sept. 7, it didn’t even take anything real — other than a threat to see the damage done.

Students stood outside in the 100+ degree heat while officers searched the middle school and many suffered heat related injuries.

Baptist MedFlight was even called but had mechanical problems and two students were transported by wheeled ambulance to area hospitals and seven were injured.

That’s not just a threat — that’s a real issue for those students.

But now we’re hearing more reports about fights at school and those responsible won’t fess up about it — in fact they try and cover it up but the students and parent networks in Maumelle are too strong and word gets out and the so-called school district has egg all over it’s face.

I say so-called because less than a handful of folks are running things. There is no school board. There is a superintendent who reports only to the director of the Arkansas Department of Education.

To say there is no accountability is an understatement.

It’s time for the school to hire more than one off-duty Maumelle policeman to help get things under control at the school. Perhaps they need to start a WatchDog Dads program at the high school and double the one at the middle school.

Maybe they need to hire off-duty Arkansas State Troopers or Pulaski County Sheriff’s deputies if there’s not enough off-duty Maumelle officers to go around.

Perhaps its time to elect a new school board — one that has some sense of accountability to the community.

There’s just way too much danger at the schools and we haven’t even addressed the inherent danger of huge fire trucks barreling down the streets and police cars rushing to answer the emergency calls. Those first responders are trained and we’re not concerned about them but it’s the driver who sees the fire engine and police car with lights flashing that often doesn’t know to just get over to the right, out of the way. Sometimes they do just the opposite of what they should do.

Our children — our students — are our most precious resource and we need to take the extra steps to protect them. They’re even more important than our money and we may need to spend more to make it safe for them to go to school.

— Bill Lawson