Students fear returning to Stoneman Douglas High School after shooting

District willing to help those wanting to transfer

PARKLAND, Fla. - The memorial continues to grow outside Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Wednesday will mark two weeks since 17 people -- 14 students and three staff members-- were killed by a gunman on campus. Wednesday will also be the first day classes resume after the tragedy.

FULL COVERAGE: Parkland school shooting

Students like senior Jesse Molen said it’s tough to even think about going to class there again.

“There’s nothing that makes me want to come back," he told WPTV's Alanna Quillen in an interview at the school Monday. “It’s difficult to come from such a tragedy. There’s a lot of trauma.”

Molen was in the freshman building on the third floor when the shooting began.

“You hear kids screaming out in the hallway. They’re dying. It’s horrible," he said, recalling his experience. "It's all very surreal when you step out and see broken glass, bullet casings on the floor."

He said the fire alarm sounded and students began to exit their classrooms. He knew something wasn't right.

“We walked into the stairwell, and I see blood smeared on the floor. And in my head I’m thinking, this is obviously horrible," he said.

Molen said the experience has traumatized him and many of his peers. He's only 17-years old.

“Something falls in your house and you hear a loud bang it brings back horrible memories. I went to a restaurant and heard a baby cry and it just reminded me of all the kids in the hallway," he said. “It’s just horrible to go through what a lot of kids have gone through, including me.”

And according to Broward Schools superintendent Robert Runcie, Molen not alone. Students attended orientation on Sunday to check on class schedules and to collect belongings lost during the shooting and that's when Runcie said a few came forward with concerns.

“There were about 10 students and five teachers who asked for information about potential reassignments -- transfers to other schools within the system," he said.

However, that's just a handful of the approximately 3,300 students on campus. No formal requests for transfers have been made, but the school district says they're willing to work with students and teachers should they want to transfer to another school.

“This week is a transition week we’re trying to be as flexible as possible," Runcie said.

Thursday and Friday will be half-days for students. Continued counseling will also be available for students and teachers as they transition back.

"I certainly want to thank everyone from across the country -- from Broward to Palm Beach and around the world for the tremendous outpouring of support. It has been truly inspiring," said Runcie.

Runcie said there will also be increased security at the school during classes this week.

“There will be significantly enhanced law enforcement and security presence here on Wednesday," he said.

WPTV asked Runcie about death threats received by students who have been vocal in national media about gun violence and reform. He said that is something that will not be tolerated.

“We need to applaud them, we need to support them -- not threaten those students," he said.

The district is hoping for a permanent solution when it comes to security on campus, with the help of state lawmakers.

“Some legislation that’s floating around in draft form around the legislature now, is to add additional school resource officers across the state. We believe that number might be in excess of 1000 additional officers," Runcie said.

If proposed legislation passes for more SROs, schools could see an impact as soon as next semester.

Still, Runcie is encouraging students and teachers to come back and cited the power of healing and unity as a tool to help others.

“To be with your friends and your peers, it's part of that whole healing process," he said. “In the midst of a horrible tragedy, we’ve seen the worst of humanity since then, we’ve seen the best of the human spirit.”

Still, Molen said he has reservations about coming back to school.

“There’s nothing really that’s changed. How am I supposed to come back and feel safe?” he said.

Molen has just a few more months until graduation. He still wonders what it will take to feel safe at school again.

“I want more officers, everyone with a gun and a badge to actually do their duty and protect you," he said, expressing his frustrations with the SRO, who the Broward Sheriff said never confronted the gunman. "I mean, deputy Petersen, I think he's a coward. He's the only one with a gun and Kevlar and he just sat behind a wall."

Molen said he's noticed many parents -- including his own -- are afraid to send their kids back to school.

“I’ve heard countless times, ‘Are you OK? I’m sorry,’ and I’m tired of hearing it. I really just want answers to figure out what we’re going to do to make the school safe again," he said.

 

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