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Teachers support Lovejoy principal

By Greg Gelpi

Rallying behind their principal, 99 of the roughly 125 Lovejoy High School teachers and faculty members have signed a letter in support of Principal S. Michael Duncan following his actions in the wake of the recent Columbine-like plot.

"Throughout his time at LHS, we have found Mr. Duncan to be a paragon of common sense and good humor," the letter states. "His insistence on doing what is best for students and his sensible support of faculty have encouraged a work place that is positive, energetic and full of good morale."

Several parents criticized Duncan's decision not to inform them when a juvenile student was arrested last month after threats of turning the school into another Columbine and attempting to recruit students for help.

Duncan chose not to inform parents, explaining that he did so to avoid a panic. News of the incident only came to light after the News Daily learned of it and reported it.

The letter, spear-headed by teacher Nelle Ivey, goes on to praise Duncan for Lovejoy's teacher retention, despite the teachers leaving other schools.

"At a time when so many schools are having to deal with the repercussions of losing numerous teachers to schools in neighboring counties, LHS has had to replace only a few," the letters states. "In addition, we have been able to hire quality teachers to take their place?We attribute this to our unfaltering belief that our school is a sound ship with a great captain!"

On Sept. 18, a 14-year-old Lovejoy student was arrested on charges of making terroristic threats, disrupting school and conspiracy to commit murder and taken to a youth detention center, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said following the arrest.

School officials were alerted by students that a classmate was attempting to recruit them to help kill the principal and several students.

Parents never learned of the incident until nearly two weeks later when the News Daily reported it and then after this article, Duncan sent a letter home and issued a statement.

"It is always easy to scrutinize someone else's decisions especially from the position of a ?Monday morning quarterback,'" the letter stated. "Rest assured, we have complete faith and confidence in the knowledge that Mr. Duncan has made all decisions based on the best interests of our students and our school. We are proud of the professional way he has represented us and pledge our support of not only him, but also our whole administrative team."

Witnesses told police the suspect planned to pull a fire alarm, block doors and shoot students as they exited classrooms, turning the school into another Columbine. They also told police of a map with details of the planned massacre, which is reminiscent of the Columbine school shooting in which 15 people were killed in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999.

Lovejoy High has almost 2,000 students this school year.

One parent, April Calleiro, complained to the News Daily that students were never evacuated from the school even when dogs were brought in to sweep the building for explosives.