More than half of Jackson Middle School's 1,400 students returned to class Wednesday.

JACKSON TWP. The scene outside Jackson Memorial Middle School Wednesday morning was remarkably different than the previous day when the grounds overflowed with worried parents waiting to be reunited with their children.

The harrowing Tuesday had passed, and a steady stream of parents pulled into the drop-off zone to return their kids to the very place that initiated emergency measures the day before because a seventh-grade student had concealed a rifle in his clothing and walked into the building where he later shot himself in a boys' bathroom. Whether the shooting was intentional or accidental remains unknown as an investigation continues.

Keith Simons, 13, died Wednesday in an Akron hospital, according to the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office. As the day progressed, a few new details of the investigation were revealed during a brief news conference held at the Jackson Township Safety Center.

But Wednesday morning, roughly 800 students and their parents were giving their best effort to proceed as normal.

A counseling and mental health team was available to the students whose parents elected to allow their children to attend classes on Wednesday.

Rob Malone, who has two children at the middle school, was among that slim majority. He received a text from his daughter as he was leaving the school parking lot telling him none of his daughter’s friends were there. They were among the nearly half of the school's 1,400 students who missed school.

According to attendance figures provided by the Stark County Educational Service Center, the middle school had a nearly 60 percent attendance rate Wednesday. All other buildings in the district had 70 percent of students in attendance.

Superintendent Chris DiLoreto did not return phone calls from GateHouse Ohio Media seeking comment about how the school day went.

Malone and other parents were putting their trust in the school district.

"My daughter is a tough kid," he said. “(Parents) had to make their best judgment. In my opinion, they should have brought them in. But some of these kids were probably terrified."

The question on the minds of many parents is whether security will be heightened to prevent another student from bringing a gun to school in the future.

Crystal Poirrier, a resident of the Massillon area, started a petition through, asking lawmakers to consider putting metal detectors in all Ohio schools. The petition is directed to lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich.

By 6 p.m. Wednesday, 2,187 signatures were on the petition, nearly hitting its 2,500 goal within the first 24 hours.

"In order to provide safety for our children, I feel this is becoming a necessity," Poirrier wrote in the description of the petition. "Children are entering schools with guns and killing innocent people. We as concerned parents are scared to send our children to school."

Malone believes it is possible to assure parents that a gun will never be brought into school again through security measures such as installing metal detectors and searching backpacks when students arrive at school. He compared it to the security of a courthouse.

Though adding security to the school may be expensive, Malone said, he believes the community would support it.

"I think every single parent and non-parent that lives in Jackson after yesterday will tell you to raise our taxes to cover this," he said. "Whatever we need. We've got to make sure a gun isn't brought to school We've got to make sure it doesn't happen."



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