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Administrators discuss students leaving campus, cutting class at Parkland High School in Winston-Salem; residents in the area are concerned

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Students leaving campus and skipping class at Parkland High School was the focal point of a meeting between school administrators in Winston-Salem on Thursday.

“I think it is a problem, kids leaving campus when they’re supposed to be in class,” said Jonathan Wilson, Security Director for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system.

Reports of the issues have been coming from people living nearby for years, including one man who says the students have become confrontational and police have been called on multiple occasions.

“Being that there is so much woods around here, they just walk in everywhere,” said Carlos Espinosa, who has family members living directly across from the school. “That’s what they’re doing, skipping school.”

During school hours, dozens of students can be seen using trails through the woods to leave campus.

“I don’t think kids just skip school to be kids,” Espinosa said. “They skip school to do something that they know they can probably get away with.”

During an earlier story done by FOX8 in March, Winston-Salem police Lieutenant Tom Peterson said they “do experience some of those challenges that we don’t see as frequently as at the other schools. You can’t rule out that some of these students are engaged in criminal conduct while they’re gone, or they may be engaged in behavior that’s just dangerous to themselves.”

One homeowner reported her home having been broken into at least four times.

“Most of the people that live here, they’re going to be at work, they’re going to be doing the right thing and they’re trying to take advantage,” Espinosa said.

The meeting on Thursday was regularly scheduled, Wilson said. However, the issue with students leaving campus and cutting class was set to be the main talking point.

“Parkland is a challenging campus,” Wilson said, describing it as “porous.”

The school system does have policies and punishments regarding tardiness and skipping, with Wilson adding that they “maybe have to tighten up on those.”

“We’re going to look at things that we can do from all sides,” he added.

Ideas to cut down on the issues include identifying the students who are skipping, better securing exit points and finding creative ways to use staff.

“We do have to think outside the box,” Wilson said.

Parkland High is located along Peters Creek Parkway, home to multiple businesses, restaurants and neighborhoods where many of the students live.

“Especially for the community in here,” Espinosa said. “Something needs to be done.”