Dearborn Public Schools officials responded Monday night to concerns over an upcoming protest at Edsel Ford High School by anti-Islam Florida pastor Terry Jones.
Supt. Brian Whiston shared that the district has made provisions with local and state law enforcement agencies and others concerned about the protest, including assembling 50 volunteers monitoring goings-on at the high school, to ensure schools takes place without interruption.
“We have brought together law enforcement—we can’t outline the plans because that’s not what law enforcement does—to make sure students are safe,” said Whiston.
“It’s probably going to be the safest place in America,” he added.
Whiston on Monday attended a parent meeting at Edsel Ford aimed at quelling parent concerns about the protest, and said afterward that the district is doing everything it can to ensure the safety and well-being of all students and staff at the Edsel facility.
“About 125 parents were at the meeting, so there were a lot of questions,” he said. “I think we answered all of those questions."
Some parents expressed concern over the visit, while others felt confident that the response from schools, city officials and police would be adequate.
"With all the plans I've seen of how it's going to be set up, we'll have so much police presence and even behind the scenes security inside and out of the building, that the gun is just a piece of clothing," commented Colette Richards on Patch. "He won't get near any students, teachers or staff members of that school or any other school."
To the question of a forced absence, Whiston added, "We definitely encourage parents to send their kids to school Wednesday."
One parent who had originally questioned whether she would send her son to school said that he would be attending Edsel on Wedesday, following reassurance from the district, as well as her son.
"I feel that the Dearborn police, the mayor, the schools—everyone is doing everything that needs to be done to keep our kids safe," said parent Pat Turnbull following Monday's meeting.
"Even more so, because of what my son said, which is—he doesn't see the point of why this guy is coming ... or anyone getting upset about it," she added. "If that's the way he feels ... I think it's going to be fine."
On Tuesday, student volunteers will go to each classroom at the high school to explain what is happening to students, Whiston said.
Jones, a controversial pastor that has visited Dearborn three times to spread an anti-Islam message in the community, is returning to the city to protest what he sees as mistreatment and “bullying of non-Muslim students."
Trustee Pamela Adams said she’s disappointed Jones elected to come to a school.
“I think the general consensus is that the less attention paid to him, the better,” she said. “But we’re doing everything we can to make sure that students are safe, and we’re proud of Edsel Ford.”
Whiston agreed that the spotlight on Jones is a problem for the community, and added that Jones will be on the public sidewalk, and will not be able to protest on school grounds.
“I wish he weren’t coming," he said, "and frankly, I think he should pay attention to issues in Florida."