Toppins said a teacher first came to her with assignments the student had turned in that "raised concern." The student was not in school, Toppins said, and his locker was searched. Toppins said his parents were called, and they agreed to take the student to the hospital, where he was ultimately admitted by police.

"We followed the protocol we were supposed to follow," Jones said. "We involved the local authorities like we're supposed to."

The school had been monitoring the student for a couple of weeks prior to the incident for unrelated issues, Jones said.

"Everybody is more aware (after Sandy Hook)," Jones said. "We've worked with Laurel City Police in numerous capacities to keep the building safe. ... The safety of the students and staff is job No. 1, and at no time this school year were any of our kids or staff in harm's way."


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A few days after the Dec. 17 incident, a Laurel High student was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint on one of the footpaths leading from the school.

"The paths on both sides of the building have always been a concern, community-wide," Jones said. "We've told our kids before, we don't suggest using the paths, but if you have to use them, walk in groups. ... Considering the amount of traffic that goes through there, the amount of incidents are minuscule compared to the number of people who use that path."

While a Laurel man and a juvenile female were arrested in connection with the footpath incident, rumors were circulating that the student from the previous incident was somehow involved, Jones said.

Addressing and combating rumors is a serious issue, Toppins said, especially when social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter are taken into consideration. Jones likened the instant access to cellphones and the messages sent through them to the childhood game of Telephone: "It never fails for the message to change."

Laurel High held a security forum Thursday, Jan. 10, to review safety practices at the school. Robocalls went out to parents of the approximately 1,800 students, and while turn-out was small in comparison, Jones took it as a sign that parents are already comfortable with the safety of their children.

"The folks who didn't show up, they already trust and understand that we're doing everything we can to keep their children safe," Jones said. "I think they know it's our No. 1 duty to keep the young people and the adults in this building as safe as possible."