"I hope that the community and parents would trust that we are doing what we think is best for our students," said Greencastle High School Principal Jim Church, though he acknowledged he may never be able to change some minds.
Church said he was disturbed by recent statements made by law enforcement officials who said that prescription drug use was a problem at Greencastle High School.
"I would never say that none of our kids do drugs," Church said, but he felt the statement unfairly targeted all GHS students.
"I have a tremendous amount of faith in our student body," Church said. "It's really unfortunate that so many have to be drawn through the assumptions made about all our kids."
Though the principal acknowledged being unfamiliar with the so-called "Rx parties" described by law enforcement as leading to Jackson's death, he said the school has been working hard to curb drug use among its students for years. The principal said finding solutions to drug use among young people will take a holistic effort, and is not an effort that school systems can tackle on their own.
"This is the society's problem, the community's problem, law enforcement's problem," Church said. "This is also a parent problem. It's all of us."
As students, faculty and staff continue to heal, and as more information is released, Church says the school will respond to their concerns about prescription drug use, but he fears that more classroom education will not be enough.
"We're certainly not going to weather the storm and then just go on with business as usual," Church said. "We need to join forces so it's a bigger thing than the school having a convocation in the auditorium."
Church, flanked by Greencastle Athletic Director Scott Knapp also addressed the concern about the school's treatment of student athletes connected to the case.
One student athlete has been arrested in connection to Jackson's death, and community members have expressed concern that despite allegations of the athlete's involvement, he continued to participate in a varsity sport.
With a copy of the school's athletic policy in one hand and a student handbook in another, Church adamantly denied that athletes receive preferential treatment. Instead, both administrators replied that they are forced to consider ethical and legal consequences of their actions, not just what they would like to do.
"We investigate these things," Church said, explaining that they could not penalize students based on mere rumors or allegations. "We can empathize with what the community might think. But legally, our hands are tied."
Describing a culture where people are quick to file lawsuits, however frivolous they might seem, Church says that school policies and actions are always viewed through legal lenses.
Knapp described the current situation as akin to the 2006 Duke University rape case, where university officials prematurely expelled members of the lacrosse team who were later fully exonerated. Though settlement figures were sealed, Duke University paid a significant financial consequence for their actions.
"We may know something, but if we don't have a solid case there is nothing that we can do," Knapp said.
"The legal system has changed things," Knapp said. "It's a lot harder to be a coach these days."
Both officials say that they have been waiting to hear the results of a police investigation, and as more information is released, they will take action.
"Coaches have agonized over this," Church said.
Citing the ongoing community forums on the BannerGraphic website, Church hopes that as people begin to heal, they can also begin to see past the rumors and innuendo surrounding this case. He says he hopes that when people have concerns, they will come to him.
"We're public servants," Church said. "Parents entrust their kids to all the staff. I need to be accountable to any question they have."