Police calls to center for troubled students worries nearby elementary school parents

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ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - WFTV has learned that in the first year that students have been attending the Hopper Center on campus, police have been called to retain students 25 times.

The Hopper Center sits on the same property where Lake Orienta Elementary students learn and play.

Thirty-one emotionally and behaviorally challenged students attend Seminole County's Hopper Center.

The school moved to Lake Orienta after the district shut down their original building in Sanford to save money.

"At times, these students can become violent toward the teachers, or more often they turn violent and just run off campus," said Robert Pelton, of the Altamonte Springs Police Department.

Records show that police calls to the school over the past year have been to detain students who have either run away or become violent.

On Thursday, police responded to the center when an out-of-control student ran through the playground and started throwing rocks at officers.

"If there's something more to the fact that they could hurt one of the other children, they ... I think they should be separated," said Jill Colberg, who was picking up a student at the school.

School leaders told Channel 9 in an email that Hopper students share no common areas with Lake Orienta students. They said that the school district has a security officer on site.

Some parents wonder if that is enough security.

"I just hope that they keep my children safe. That's my biggest concern," said parent Julie Moonlight.

The district said they saved about $500,000 per year by shutting down the old Hopper Center. They said there are no plans to move the current Hopper center.