Board members discuss school threat at Hayes

By Glenn Battishill -

The Delaware City Schools Board of Education discussed the threat made against Hayes High School last week and heard a presentation from students at Conger Elementary during its monthly meeting Monday at the Willis Education Center.

On the minds of many was the district’s decision to close Hayes on Nov. 8 after two students reported overhearing a shooting threat being made against the school on Nov. 7. Superintendent Paul Craft said last week that the district immediately contacted police, who investigated and took Troy Ferguson, 18, into custody at a friend’s home on North Washington Street.

Ferguson told police he was just joking when he made the comments, but after an investigation, police found a .22 caliber handgun, an airsoft gun, rope, a gas can, and a fake wig and beard in his car. He was charged with felony inducing panic and was taken to a secure medical facility. Police said when he is released, he will be taken into custody.

Hayes was closed Thursday, Nov. 8, while police continued to investigate, but the school reopened the following day without incident.

Board President Ted Backus said he “felt good” about how everyone came together to work through the incident.

“On behalf of the board, we thank all our administration, our faculty, our staff, and everyone who was involved,” Backus said. “It was a difficult time, but we appreciate you rising up.”

Craft complimented the board and shared his appreciation for being able to reach each board member within 30 minutes, and he also acknowledged the work of the City of Delaware Police Department.

Student Board Member and Hayes senior Caroline Binkley also thanked the administration for the support during the incident.

“I know a lot of my friends, now that we have experience with it, would feel safer in the future knowing how it would be handled,” Binkley said.

Police reported Ferguson was still hospitalized Tuesday, and the investigation is still ongoing.

The board also heard a brief presentation from Josh Page, principal at Conger Elementary School, who recapped a training he had recently attended about how to better connect with students who have suffered from Adverse Childhood Experiences. Page said a key takeaway from the training was “connect before you correct,” which he said is about trying to understand or reach common ground with a student before trying to correct a behavior problem.

Along with Page, several students from Conger attended the meeting and gave a presentation to the board about the Teams program at Conger, which divides the student body into teams to encourage students to become friends with students they normally wouldn’t interact with. The students also discussed projects they’ve done at the school like the Buddy Bench, a bench on the playground where students who have no one to play with can be connected with other students.

Backus praised the student’s presentation. “If you’re the future leaders, we’re in great hands,” he told the students.

Additionally, the board approved a number of staffing changes during the meeting.

The board approved the retirement of Stanley McDonald, the district director of technology, and approved the resignations of Aleece Jester, a educational assistant at Smith Elementary School; Sarah Hamons, a School-Aged-Child-Care assistant with the district; and Andrew Thomas, a maintenance worker for the district.

The board also approved the employment of Kier Ector-Smith, a guidance counselor at Hayes, and Jennifer Fry, who will be the new director of technology for the district.

By Glenn Battishill

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.