JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) - Jacksonville Police Department arrested a high school teacher for inadvertently bringing a loaded gun to school in a purse.
"The first reaction was obviously shock," says parent Rizelle Aaron. He says although the school called the proper authorities, the situation could have ended much worse.
"There were a lot of things that could have happened and there is no excuse, none, for a teacher bringing a weapon to school," says Aaron.
According to Jacksonville Police, English teacher Jennifer Paul unintentionally brought her small handgun to school inside her purse. A student saw the weapon while Paul was away from her desk and took it, hiding it in his waistband.
"She did not bring the gun to school because she had some evil purpose. It was a mistake," says Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Jerry D. Guess.
He says Paul has a concealed carry permit but forgot to remove the gun before coming to work. Now, she is facing a Class D felony and disciplinary action from the school district.
"The Ethics Commission will send an investigator out who will determine the length and depth of the investigation that the Ethics Commission will conduct and there are possible consequences to that as well," says Dr. Guess.
Still, parents like Aaron say it is not enough, asking for more serious action to be taken.
"If a student brought a pistol to school, of course they would be locked up, probably go to prison. A teacher on the other hand can do the exact same thing, break the exact same law and get a suspension or a simple slap on the wrist and it's unacceptable," says Aaron.
Aaron tells Principal Henry Anderson notified all the parents to let them know what happened and also gave them an automated phone call later this afternoon telling them the teacher and the student were in police custody.
Superintendent Guess says the student will be suspended pending an investigation and could face expulsion. Paul will also be suspended. He says it is not clear what kind of disciplinary action she could face from the district on top of the action taken by the ethics commission.
Paul appeared before Jacksonville District Court Tuesday and was released with a court date of February second.
The student faces charges of theft and minor in possession of a handgun on school property. He has been turned over to the Juvenile Justice Center.
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