County judge has message for students: I don’t want to see you in court

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, September 14, 2017

Warren County Judge Johnny Price had a message for junior high school and high school students in the Vicksburg Warren County School District: certain kinds of behavior and activity in school will get them in serious trouble and a trip to the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center.

“And I do not want any of you to get in this trouble.”

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Price’s comments were part of his annual visit to the school district’s two high schools and two junior highs Wednesday, starting with Warren Central High School and ending about two hours later at Vicksburg High.

“The youth detention center is where you will be going if you violate one of these four rules I’m fixing to talk about,” he told Vicksburg High students before outlining the offenses: bringing a weapon to school, bringing narcotics to school, fighting on campus and disrespectful behavior toward teachers, administrators and school employees.

“If you violate one of these four rules, you’ll immediately be brought off the school, brought to the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center and you will have a due process hearing within 48 hours of when you’re incarcerated that’s exclusive of weekends.

“So if you get in trouble at a football game on Friday night, you’ll see me the next Tuesday. But until then, you’ll have to stay in the detention center.”

Price said he did not want to have to see any of the students in court.

“This is an educational facility; you’re here for one reason; to get an education. Every year, we have 2 or 3 knuckleheads that violate the terms of these rules and they pay a serious consequence for it, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone of you.”

He said the four rules should be self-evident. “It’s really ridiculous that I should have to come out here and explain them to you.”

• Never bring weapons on the school campus.

“By a weapon, I mean a razor, gun, knife, anything that could be construed to be a weapon,” Price said. “By school campus, let’s be very clear about this. I’m talking about football games, cheerleader practice, I’m talking about soccer games, band practice, on a road trip; you have no need for weapons.

“ If you get caught (with a weapon), the school resource officer will take you to detention. Now, I’m not talking to babies. I’m talking to young adults, and each one of you understand and read the newspaper and watch TV and understand what’s going on in society in this day and time. We’re not going to tolerate it in Vicksburg, in Warren County and especially not in any educational facility like this.

“Four of five years ago, in this building (the school’s auditorium), a young man was accepted as a Rhoades Scholar. That is one of the highest academic achievements in the world. Six or seven years ago, he was sitting right here in this facility.”

He added the school has also produced a Fulbright Scholar.

“You are 2 or 3 years away from being a registered voter and being able to do anything you want to do.”

• No illegal narcotics.

“There is no room for illegal narcotics on a school campus or in your life,” Price said.

He used the time to warn students about marijuana use, telling them THC, the active chemical in the drug can affect their brain.

“Your brains are an organ in your body that’s still growing. It does not reach maximum maturity until you are 22 or 23 years old. When you ingest that chemical into that brain, it retards your brain growth; it can cause some serious consequences,” he said.

• Fights on school campuses.

“There is no reason to have a fight on a school campus,” Price said. “Fighting will not be tolerated on this school campus.”

When a fight breaks out at the school and administrators call the police, “And they go flying down Drummond Street and Polk Street and Washington Street with blue lights and sirens, your parents think some tragedy’s happened here. And the next thing you know, everybody in town thinks this is a horrible facility.

“And your parents, who pay taxes so you can come here and get an education, don’t want to pay taxes because they think it’s so bad out here. That’s your reputation.”

The same school that produced a Rhoades Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar, he said, now has a reputation as a bad school.

“If you see a fight,” Price said, “Everybody better stay out of it. Let your administrators handle it. You don’t want to do anything that hinders your education of destroys the image of your school.”

• Respect for school teachers, administrators and other school employees.

“You have a lot of adults right here being paid by your parents through taxes to educate you,” he said. “They deserve your respect, and they’re going to get it. If you show any disrespect or act of aggression toward an adult that’s trying to get you somewhere in life, there is going to be a terrible consequence to pay.”

Price said after his address the majority of the students in the schools exhibit good behavior, “But there are always 1 or 2 who don’t get the message and give the school a bad name.”

He said so far this school year he has heard cases involving 10 fights at school, and only 1or 2 were serious.

“There is good discipline,” he said. “At the Vicksburg Warren Central game we had one incident and it was minor and taken care of by school personnel. They (school officials) do a good job.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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