Several teachers at Chamblee High School are expressing concern after having their classrooms broken into and expensive equipment stolen for the second time in less than two months.
Currently, Chamblee High is being rebuilt and during the next several years classes will be held in trailers behind the school. Teacher Jennifer Tinnel, whose classroom was broken into over the Columbus Day weekend, said she was worried that not enough precautions have been taken to secure what school officials term “the instructional village.”
“Well, this is the second time this year that it has happened that we know of. The first time was over Labor Day weekend. One thing that they have in common is they’ve both been over long weekends,” Tinnel said.
Tinnel said that both weekends the doors to several trailers were pulled open and computers and projectors were stolen, in addition to tests being torn up and desks being rummaged through.
“We have been told so little and the people whose trailers were broken into this weekend have not been addressed as a group,” Tinnel said.
Tinnel said the teachers have been told there is no additional money for security or for the school to replace the items that had been stolen. However, school system spokesman Walter Woods disputed that.
“That’s not the policy of the district. I know that we have some budget constraints but we hope to be able to replace the items needed throughout the district and we work to do that with all of our departments,” Woods said.
“We replaced the fence and we replaced all of the locks and made a decision to put in additional lighting and motion sensors that will alert security,” Woods said.
Tinnel has been teaching for 15 years—11 of them at Chamblee—and she said she has never experienced a feeling of insecurity to the measure she does now. She also said the lack of technology in the classrooms would impact the children’s education “for those teachers that let it.”
Another teacher at the high school, who did not want to be named, said she had spoken with Principal Rochelle Lowery, who told her that none of the items were being replaced because they would just get stolen again.
Woods said the system is trying to evaluate the cost to replace the equipment that was stolen.
“It’s just frustrating because parents are sending their children to school in the first place in a construction zone, and the teachers don’t have a computer or a projector to use,” the teacher said. “My video cameras were stolen and my projector was stolen, it’s basically like going back to teaching with a chalkboard.”
The teacher said this month she planned to attend one of Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s fireside chats to voice her concerns.
Lowery was contacted for comment but did not return repeated phone calls by deadline.
Tinnel said she has heard many teachers and staff talk about their excitement and how, once the new building is finished, all the time spent in the trailers will have been worth it.
“The one analogy that I keep thinking about is, if my house in my neighborhood was broken into twice I would move…It’s just an environment that’s not conducive to children learning at this point,” Tinnel said.