TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Tyler ISD estimates that 180 students, nine percent of the total student body, did not show up for class, along with seven unexpected teacher absences. And, despite the district's contention that this was an isolated incident, parents and teachers told us violence is so common at John Tyler High School, they don't want to ever go back.
"They said, 'Momma, we don't want to go to school.'" said Carol Woodward. "I said, 'Well, they said y'all have to go to school. If you don't, you'll be counted absent.'"
It was a conversation many parents had Thursday - whether to send their kids back to a school where they say violence is everywhere.
"I didn't know what to tell her," said Sheri Campbell. "I didn't know what to say. I said it's going to happen at every school."
But, according to a former John Tyler teacher who asked to remain anonymous, kids aren't the only ones in danger.
"Our security had been let go, and teachers were basically put in the position of security guards," said the former John Tyler teacher. "They aren't trained to do that. We aren't trained as security people. We aren't trained as cops."
This teacher left Tyler ISD last year fearing her safety. She was saddened by Wednesday's news, but not surprised.
"I don't think it is an isolated incident," said the former teacher. "I think it is an escalating culture there. It is a very gang infested school and they wipe that under the rug."
This danger has some educators and kids looking for ways to get out. According to education laws, their only option is quitting or transferring.
"By law, a parent can request to transfer to another school within the district," said Susanne Marchmann, with the Texas Education Agency. "The law says that a parent must submit the request in writing and ask to be transferred to another school within the school district. The school board has 30 days to respond to the request."
For now, most have decided to stay put, hoping things get better.
"Well, you know, school has to go on," said Roderick Jackson, the father of a student.
The TEA says school districts must accept transfer requests in cases of bullying and sexual assault, but this case doesn't fall under either of those categories.