Pubdate: Sat, 31 Dec 2011
Source: Princeton Daily Clarion (IN)
Copyright: 2011 Princeton Publishing, Inc.
Author: Janice Barniak


Bulletin: Michael Shafer turned himself in to the Gibson County
Sheriff's Office Saturday afternoon and remains in custody with bond
set at $50,000 cash. He's scheduled for arraignment Tuesday morning.
Shafer was sought by authorities for a week in connection with the
discovery of a meth lab on the main campus of East Gibson schools in
Oakland city before Christmas break.

OAKLAND CITY -- Oakland City Police Chief Alec Hensley and East Gibson
schools superintendent Franzy Fleck faced a crowd of upset parents
Friday afternoon in the Wood Memorial Junior High Cafetorium, where
the crowd had the opportunity to air their views, their suggestions
and ask questions to police about the discovery of a one-pot
methamphetamine lab found on campus Dec. 21.

Hensley said police found the lab at the East Gibson main campus,
decided it was inactive, removed it to a building out of the main
property and identified school maintenance employee Michael Shafer as
a suspect in the incident. While an arrest warrant has been issued,
Shafer was not in custody as of Friday evening.

Parents were concerned about police protocol, and whether their
children should have been evacuated, as well as why they were not
notified immediately of the lab.

Parent Jennifer Schleter suggested random drug testing

teachers and staff. "Lots of career choices have random drug testing.
I don't think it's a conversation, I think it should be mandatory,"
she told Fleck, who said random drug testing would be something
discussed by the school

board. She also wanted to know how police could determine no one else
was involved in the incident.

Amyie Lewis, a school employee, asked why faculty wasn't told, or
children moved to another location while police

determined no other labs were present on campus.

"My two sons are on the Francisco Fire Department. We know what these
things can do," she said. While education for students, teachers and
parents is fine, she said, the teachers and parents weren't the ones
who brought in the lab. She said meth labs are unstable. With no way
to know before police arrived whether any other meth was present, she
felt students should have been moved or evacuated. "Yeah, I'm fuming.
Honey,what would you have said, 'sorry your kid got burned?'" she asked.

Several parents were alarmed that they found out about the incident
through social media, not the school. At least three members of the
audience said they felt local law enforcement was not an adequate
solution to policing the schools and experts needed to be brought in.

The chief said he has applied on a yearly basis, including in recent
months, to send more of his staff to Drug Enforcement Agency training,
which is expensive. But the certification that it gives, and that
Officer Michael Collins obtained, can only be given after approval

of the Drug Enforcement Agency. He has received no other approvals for

Parents wanted to know if there was a possibility the meth was sold in
the school. Hensley said police found no evidence to suggest that had

Firefighter Chad Butts wanted to know why the fire department wasn't
called. Hensley said law enforcement didn't think that was necessary.

Other parents wanted to know if the chemicals used by the maintenance
employee came from school stock, and whether those cleaning supplies
were being monitored. The question wasn't answered.

Parent Sasha Berry said she's a former meth user and moved to East
Gibson with an assumption of safety. She

said after the meeting that she thought a smaller district would mean
her daughter wouldn't be exposed to something like that, as she would
expect at bigger schools.

"I found out on Facebook. I was really mad, and I asked my daughter.
She said she had no idea what had happened," said Berry. "What's
missing is street sense, common sense. If it's dismantled it's still

Parents were concerned about whether Shafer still had keys to the

Fleck said attempts to locate Shafer have been unsuccessful, so he
does still have his keys, but the key fobs that allow access to the
building have been changed.

"We want you to know it's okay you're upset, you should be," said

Students will return to school Tuesday to a very different

school atmosphere than the one they left on Dec. 21, when they were
unaware a lab had even been discovered and meth made on their campus.

Five assemblies are scheduled the first day back to brief students,
teachers and staff at each campus. More parent forums are scheduled,
and a parent advisory and action committee will be formed, said Fleck,
as well as a

student advisory committee.

A tip hotline will allow people to remain anonymous when reporting
suspicious activity at school, and the school

board will discuss randomly testing teachers and school staff for
drugs. The background checks will be re-examined, and school "sweeps"
will continue.

Shafer is still at large, wanted on a felony warrant for manufacturing
methamphetamines within 1,000 feet of a school.

The next forum open to parents and the community is at 9 a.m. Tuesday
at Barton Township School gym. Another is planned at 1 p.m. at
Francisco Elementary School. 
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