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Southeast Raleigh High School tragedy has district leaders searching for answers

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Southeast Raleigh High School tragedy has district leaders searching for answers

Nov 29, 2023 | 6:00 am ET
By Greg Childress
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Southeast Raleigh High School tragedy has district leaders searching for answers
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The Wake County Board of Education’s Safety and Security Committee discuss school safety on Nov. 28, 2923. (Photo: Screenshot from YouTube)

The Wake County school board’s Safety and Security Committee took on a somber tone Tuesday, one day after a student at Southeast Raleigh High School died after being stabbed during a school fight.

A 14-year-old student has been charged with murder in connection with the death of 15-year-old Delvin Ferrell. Another student was hospitalized after suffering what law enforcement officials said are non-life threatening injuries.

The Safety and Security Committee observed a moment of silence before amending its agenda and going into closed session to discuss “confidential security updates.”

It reemerged more than two hours later but shared little about what was discussed behind closed doors.

Superintendent Robert Taylor expressed support for Southeast Raleigh Principal Eddie Harden and his staff and applauded their handling of the tragic stabbing death.

“They are examples of resiliency in light of what has transpired for this community,” Taylor said. “They are working continually to make sure that professionally, they are mentally where they need to be so they can be in that same position for their students.”

Superintendent Robert Taylor
Superintendent Robert Taylor (Photo: Screenshot from YouTube)

The committee’s agenda had included a discussion of the district’s Memorandum of Understanding with law enforcement agencies to provide schools with Student Resource Officers and a new policy to require clear bags at high school spectator events.

“In light of yesterday’s tragedy, we want to dedicate our time today to receiving confidential security updates,” said School board Chairwoman Lindsay Mahaffey, who chairs the committee.

School board member Tara Waters, who represents District 4, which includes Southeast Raleigh High School, said Monday’s stabbing death has caused unimaginable “grief, heartache and pain.”

“It’s something that’s going to take time to mend and come to terms with it, but the work we’re going to do today and moving forward will help us to come to a place where we can ensure the safety of our students in our buildings and bring healing and hope to our communities,” Waters said.

Gov. Roy Cooper weighed in on the stabbing death Monday via social media.

“We cannot accept violence in our schools and we must continue to work to identify threats and ensure the safety of students and teachers so they can focus on teaching and learning,” Cooper said.

The stabbing death has raised questions about safety in Wake County schools and whether school officials should consider adopting new security measures, including metal detectors, to keep weapons out of schools and students safe.

The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the mother of the 14-year-old student charged with murder says she warned a school official Monday that her son might be attacked.

Cherelle McLaughlin said the fight stemmed from an earlier dispute between her older daughter and a female student at the school. The dispute led to several students coming to her house a week ago and assaulting McLaughlin and her daughter, she told the newspaper.