APS leaders say school safety is a top priority, after a shooting at Benjamin E. Mays High School

APS police chief Ronald Applin, following the State of the District meeting on Feb. 19, 2024. (Juma Sei/WABE)

Officials with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) met for its “State of the District” meeting this week. The meeting is a chance for APS leaders to share updates on student progress and communicate their priorities for the remaining school year. 

This year, the meeting comes on the heels of a shooting at Benjamin E. Mays High School.

The shooting happened when a fight broke out in the campus parking lot after school. Four young men were shot and APS security who were on site responded immediately. 

None of the injuries were life-threatening. The boys were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment and are all recovering well, according to APS police Chief Ronald Applin. 

There is only one suspect in the case so far. But the investigation is ongoing.

APS Interim Superintendent Danielle Battle delivers State of the District address on Feb. 19, 2024. (Juma Sei/WABE)

“Kids today — some kids today — seem to think the only way they can solve problems is using a gun,” Applin said at the State of the District. “That’s just not the way to handle things. It’s total disregard for the life and safety of others.”

Applin — who is an APS graduate himself — said that moments like this underscore why training officers to respond to campus emergencies is more important than ever. 

The officers who responded to the incident at Mays applied tourniquets to two of the students who were shot. The chief said he requested his staff be trained to do so after another incident a few years back.

But training officers to handle emergencies is not the only way that APS plans to address school safety. 

The district is also rolling out new visitor management systems, a new crisis alert system and a program to help kids avoid gang involvement. 

But even that will not fully solve the problem, according to interim Superintendent Danielle Battle. 

Battle said the push to keep students safe has to be reflected in the community. So that is what she is asking from the public. 

“Talk to your children, talk to your neighbors, talk to people at church,” Battle said at the district address. “Wherever you go, talk to young people. It’s gonna take the village to make a difference.”

Note of disclosure: Atlanta Public Schools holds WABE’s broadcast license.