After a lockdown at Jefferson High School sent worried parents to the school, the San Antonio Independent School District says it will enhance communications with families in such situations.
On Tuesday, a report of a shooting at Jefferson High School caused the campus to lock down, sparking a chaotic scene outside the school as panicked parents waited for updates. As school district police officers and other law enforcement searched the campus and found the report to be unfounded, verbal disputes erupted between parents and officers. Some parents had to be physically restrained from entering the school. A few parents grappled with police.
The incident showed how parents of school-age children remain concerned about school safety — and law enforcement response — in the wake of the May 24 Uvalde mass school shooting that left 21 dead. School officials said it’s possible the report of a shooting was a hoax.
Superintendent Jaime Aquino sent a letter Wednesday to all district families praising local law enforcement for responding quickly to the shooting report and explaining the district’s lockdown procedures.
“Yesterday, our officers worked seamlessly with the officers from the San
Antonio Police Department as part of our unified command protocol,” he wrote in the letter, adding that 29 district officers and 58 San Police Department officers quickly arrived at the scene.
But as the crowd of parents at the scene grew larger, resource officers informed parents they weren’t allowed to enter and that students could not be released because of the lockdown. Parents grew angry and frustrated as they waited for updates on the situation.
An hour and a half after the first notification to parents, the district informed them that no evidence of a shooting had been found, but by that time some physical altercations had broken out on the steps of the high school.
In his letter, Aquino stated that when a school is locked down, students and staff cannot be released “until officers determine that the threat has been resolved, give clearance, and lift the lockdown.”
To improve communication in such incidents, Aquino said the district will send staff to the campus to keep families on the scene informed of what is happening.
“Safety-first is the procedure we followed yesterday, and will continue to follow, so that you and your loved ones remain safe,” said Aquino. “We encourage families and staff to allow officers to follow the best-practices protocols they have in place.”
Aquino said the district will also work to enhance communication to families via text messages to parents and guardians.
“We fully recognize that yesterday was discomforting,” he wrote. “We understand your concern, and we empathize with all of you. … We will do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe from harm.”