Parents cry out for better communication in wake of school lockdowns

February 22, 2018

Parents took to Facebook to express their frustration with the lack of communication from School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas and the school district regarding the school lockdowns that led to three arrests on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

At last Friday’s press conference regarding the Parkland, Fla. shooting, Thomas asked for parents to help keep schools safe and guns off campuses.

“And all that I can do within my power as superintendent will never be enough,” he said. “It will take all of us working together in lockstep, monitoring our students, being observant to what’s happening around us.”

“Working together” requires communication. The initial automated phone messages from the principals that the students were safe needed a more detailed follow-up so that parents had an idea how to discuss what happened with their children.

Here are some of the posts – I’ve redacted names to protect the families from harassment:

  • “I got a text from my daughter today that said ‘I love you, dad.’ I was sitting with a friend, and I showed her. ‘She’s so sweet.’ I sent her a quick reply. ‘Love you, too.’ A second later I get an automated phone call from her school that said there was a “law enforcement instance.” I later find out they had a Code Red lockdown, and she and her classmates were huddled in corner against the wall, hiding from a possible shooter, when she sent that text.”
  • “My daughter’s friends at Washington, where the actual kid who made threats was arrested, either with or without a gun – the kid rumor mill all say with – was terrified at 14, didn’t go to class tonight, and doesn’t want to any more. Who would?”
  • “My son is a freshman at Washington High. Yesterday, he and 170 of his classmates spent about 90 minutes locked down in the cafeteria. During that time, his understanding was that someone was at the school with a gun and hit list, which may have just been a rumor. In any event, he told his mother last night that he felt like a “sitting duck.” I can’t imagine the terror he and the others experienced.”
  • “It’s a sad world we live in when children are scared to go to school. And the parents of each and everyone must be going thru horrible fear worrying about their children’s safety. Prayers for all of them. Keep them safe.”
  • “Today, my son’s school went on lockdown. I found out from a news outlet’s post in my FaceBook feed. Not from the school. No texts, emails, phone calls, nothing. I had already spent a good deal of time trying to get in touch with anybody at his school before I decided to drive there and see if parents could check children out. Eventually I did get a text message and a recorded phone call. But that was well after I’d seen the story on FaceBook. Luckily, everything was fine and the lockdown was precautionary. In the wake of Parkland mere days ago, what a massive failure in notifying parents. What a massive failure in letting parents find out from news outlets and social media. I am so angry. If the threat was valid enough for someone to decide on lockdown, it shouldn’t have taken them but 30 seconds before they blasted parents with texts or a quickly recorded call. If they had time to notify a local news station, they had time to notify parents. I don’t know what the answer is to any of this but I know keeping parents in the dark definitely isn’t it.”
  • “My son is a student at WHS. He was at school today. I do agree that parents must be notified timely and definitely before the media. But can you imagine the chaos of panicked parents arriving en mass while an event is still in progress? That is fuel on a fire and greatly endangers more people, including first responders. I received a text with the link to the recorded message at 1:09 p.m. The lockdown started some time between noon and 1. The social media posts were most likely from kids on the inside posting in real time. There is no way the school can be faster. Their focus of all resources has to be immediate resolution of the situation and protection of our kids. Now, the message I received left A LOT to be desired, but I was notified and began texting with my son who said it ‘was nothing.'”

From the same Mom:

On Tuesday – “Escambia county schools need a better system in place! My daughter text me at 11:15am her school is on code red and on lock down! Teachers have no information and all kids are freaking out! I call the school and all it does is ring busy! Considering what happened last week, does it not occur to the school district to send out a call letting parents know this is a serious code or a pre-caution? Frustrating!!!”

Later on Tuesday – “Everything is fine, the police were perusing someone in the neighborhood close to the school so they put the surrounding schools on lockdown for precaution.  My issue is that not even the teachers knew what was going on to keep the kids calm! Teachers should have walkies to communicate with the office of what is going on!”

On Wednesday -“Update: So apparently the school superintendent office secretary lied yesterday. Holms Elementary and Washington High School were all on lockdown due to 3 individuals threatening the schools on social media. From what I was told when dropping my daughter off to school this morning is that there was a gun on campus and a tip was called into the police whom acting quickly! So furious.”

School District website still has no information on the incidents. Top news item is the Teacher of the Year award.



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  • perdidochas February 22, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    If schools were to alert parents about a lockdown while it’s happening, well-meaning parents would swoop down on the school, making a bad situation worse.