Paine College in Augusta, Georgia is a private school with less than a thousand students. Earlier this week, the campus was rocked by two shooting incidents in two days. The first of these took place on Sunday, May 4, when somebody fired into a dorm, and a student was hurt by the resulting debris. The second happened the following day, when a student was shot in the head inside an administration building. An article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that a lockdown took place on campus after the second shooting.


The alleged shooter in the second incident, Xavier Deanthony Cooper, who was a student at Paine College, was apprehended. He is being held in jail on charges that include aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a firearm on school grounds.


According to a second article, this one in the Augusta Chronicle, Cooper had four prior arrests in metro Atlanta. The article stated, “The most recent arrest was on Dec. 24, when he was charged with possession and use of drug-related objects in Fulton County.”


Paine College’s administration was unaware of Cooper’s previous charges. In his admission application, Cooper checked “no” to the question that asked if he had ever been charged with a felony, which meant the college did not do a background check on him. But this turned out to be a false response, as the following was reported in the Chronicle article, “In June 2012 at age 18, Cooper was charged with his first felony for criminal damage to property in the second degree.”


In previous blogs we have talked about various campus background policies. For admissions, relying on self-reports on admissions applications appears to be the trend at many schools. But for this type of policy to work, it requires honesty by those asked to self-report. In this case, the system in place did not work.


And in the aftermath of the campus shootings the college is left to ask, what’s the next step for our school’s background policy?