Parents demand answers after trespasser on Pickering High School campus

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 2:26 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2023 at 10:11 PM CDT
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Leesville, LA (KPLC) - A woman who was reported trespassing onto Pickering High School campus in Leesville last week is an outpatient at Oceans Behavioral Hospital in DeRidder, according to Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office.

West Central’s Best, a broadcast and media production company based in Leesville, first reported the incident, stating the female was able to gain access to the school campus on Thursday, April 20. She then got on the bus at the end of the day and was dropped off at the Middle School and Teen Center (MST), an after-care center in Fort Polk. When questioned by a worker at the center, the woman fled the area.

Staff at Pickering High was made aware of the issue the following day and began investigating with the assistance of the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The woman reportedly returned to the campus again on Friday afternoon, so the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office was contacted and took the woman into custody, according to West Central’s Best.

“My biggest fear is one of my babies not coming home one day, so to know that big of a breach happened, I have no words for how angry and upset I’ve been,” Heather Davis said.

In a statement regarding the incident, Pickering High School principal Jeffrey Odom tells KPLC, “We were made aware of an incident Friday morning about a person attempting to board a bus going to MST. We are investigating this incident. The Sheriff’s Department and Military Police are involved in the investigation. We are taking all security measures to make sure your child is safe at our school.”

Parents who have children who attend the school said they were disturbed by the lack of communication with parents and how easily accessible the school is.

“Why is there not more safety measures being taken, especially with everything going on in our nation,” Candi Chavis said. “That is what I am most concerned about. An apology from the Vernon Parish School Board would be nice, and our schools should be locked down during the day.”

“I don’t want my kids to be in that situation,” Davis said. “I want them to be safe. I want to know the people I put my kids with have their backs.”

Davis said this is just one instance of why she is not enrolling her three kids in Pickering schools next year.

“I reached out Friday, and nobody wanted to tell me anything,” Davis said. “Then they release a statement ensuring us our children are safe. No, they are not, that’s past that. I just hope for the future, they take tighter security measures.”

We have reached back out to the school system for further clarification on how long the woman was on campus, where she was, why she wasn’t noticed, and where the resource officer was at the time.

Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft said the woman is an outpatient at Oceans Behavioral Hospital in DeRidder where she is being treated for some type of mental issue, and he does not believe she had any intent to cause harm.

Sheriff Craft said as an outpatient, staff would pick her up in the mornings in a van provided by the clinic and drive her home after her session. She lives very close to the school, and she asked the driver to drop her off at the school.

The woman and the staff of Oceans were cooperative with the police, and the woman’s supervisor at the clinic gave Craft the assurance this will not happen again.