UPDATED at 11 p.m. Wednesday
I asked a few days ago whether schools are under reporting violence or threats of violence. I cited a note that I had received from a knowledgeable source that Atlanta Public Schools had failed to alert parents to lockdowns at Grady High School and the New Schools of Carver, and that the incidents exposed a troubling lack of coordination between APS and Atlanta Police.
Not everyone agreed that parents needed to be notified.
One Grady parent posted: Terrorist threat – really? I worked as part of the safety and security parent/teacher counsel at Grady so was privy to more than just parent hearsay. Anyone aware of the location of Grady is aware that being in Midtown poses unique situations – that the street crime of breaking into cars can have the miscreant running from the cops and ducking into the parking lot of Grady to run through/get to the other major cross road. Mid-day, broad daylight and not the brightest bulb for a criminal. Because of that situation, not because of a terrorist threat, the school rightly went into security mode. It was handled by all staff and police in a quiet and calm manner, I happen to be there inside the school and outside when it happened. My middle school son was waiting in the car for me- nothing about the situation raised my concern, nothing inside the school raised concern. It was just that it happened to overflow into school territory and the school officials had to take precautions. I don’t know where you heard terrorist threat from but please stop making it sound as if Grady High School is anything but what it is- an urban high school.
But here is the official response from APS as to what happened to provoke the lockdowns at Grady and New Schools of Carver, an account that differs from what the parent at Grady described. From APS spokesman Keith Bromery:
I am informed that in both cases calls were made from inside of these schools indicating that someone would be shot. In both instances, the schools were locked down for brief periods at mid-day while the threats were assessed by Atlanta Police Department and APS officials. It is the equivalent of a bomb threat. The situations were seamless to students as they happened during the regular school day while they were in class. The district does not routinely announce that these types of threats have happened because of the tendency of some people to emulate (copycat) these activities, especially when there was no disruption to the normal school day, such as delaying dismissal or the start of classes at the beginning of the day.
UPDATED at 11 p.m. Wednesday: I sent another e-mail asking Bromery if there was a policy to alert parents to lockdowns.
We inform parents/guardians of events on a case by case basis, depending on the impact of the specific incident. In these cases, the incidents were seen as minor and of short duration with minimal impact on students and staff. By the way, these were described as “soft lockdowns,” meaning that people were permitted to enter and leave the campuses on a monitored basis during the duration of the lockdowns. Additionally, I am advised that it was neighborhood rumors that sparked the phone calls that led to the lockdowns and that the calls did not necessarily come from within the two campuses.
The bottom line for me — parents should have been told.
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog