Cassville superintendent discusses lockdown rumor

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Parent says she wishes she had been notified by SchoolReach

The Cassville School District on Tuesday released information regarding an incident last week that prompted a statement saying the schools were not in a lockdown.

According to Cassville Superintendent Richard Asbill, a disruption occurred in the high school office on Wednesday, Aug. 27, when a student allegedly used profanity, threw a book bag and slammed a door.

Shortly after the incident, Asbill released a statement that said there were reports the school went into lockdown, but that was not the case, and all students were safe. Asbill said does not know where the lockdown rumors originated, but the district was notified of them through Facebook messages.

Dana Kammerlohr, Cassville police chief, confirmed the school was never in a lockdown, and said her department was not dispatched to the scene.

"The school handled it," she said.

Staff at the Juvenile Office for the 39th Judicial Circuit also said they had not been contacted about any incident.

Elizabeth Thompson, who has a 10-year-old in fourth grade and a 13-year-old in eighth grade, said both her children told her there was an issue at the district.

"My 10-year-old told me they had to shut the blinds, sit at their desks very quietly and lock the door," she said. "I picked them up at different times, and they both told me the same thing, except my 13-year-old did not say anything about the blinds."

Asbill said teachers were reminded to keep their classroom doors locked and shut, and doors are normally locked, but sometimes, teachers have their classroom doors propped open during class changing times.

"We believe that some teachers did ask students to remain quiet," he said. "I am not aware of closing blinds statements."

Thompson, who works in Springfield, said she was surprised to hear about the issue from her children. She said Cassville uses a program called SchoolReach to notify parents when emergencies occur, such as last year, when a police chase ended in the district's parking lot and the suspect fled on foot.

"I got one SchoolReach message [Wednesday] and one [Thursday]," she said. "The first was from the middle school saying parents should make sure to go with children to the football game and that pictures are next week. The second was from the intermediate school and said the same thing."

Asbill said the district uses SchoolReach to inform parents about a variety of events, and did not use it this time because the situation had been handled.

"In this case, when we learned through Facebook about concerns, we posted two statements regarding those assumptions/rumors," he said. "We did not utilize SchoolReach as the situation was handled. If there was an actual lockdown, we would have utilized SchoolReach to contact our parents either in one or all of our buildings, depending on the circumstances and needs related to the specific event."

Thompson said after learning something happened at the school, she began searching online for reports, but found none.

"I searched online with Google and on Facebook for a while after 5 p.m.," she said.

Thompson said the experience has made her more aware that she needs a plan if something major were to happen, especially while she is in Springfield.

"I'm not trying to stir the pot or make anyone upset, and I've always had good relationships with the teachers and staff at Cassville," she said. "But in this day and age, if the kids thought it was a lock-down, there should be a plan. I wish they had sent out a SchoolReach message, even if it wasn't a big deal, and it's good no one got hurt.

"But, to have to search to find out what's going on means we need to have a plan."

Asbill said the district is continuing to work on safety and communication issues that have arisen.

"The administrative team will always act in the best interest of the students and staff," he said. "While we were not 'officially' in a lock-down situation, it would not have been inappropriate if we felt that it would have helped us keep students safe.

"In addition, we are working on discussing with our safety [and] security committee to address some of the communication issues that have been presented."

Editor's note: The Cassville Democrat did not seek the name of the student involved, nor was it released to us. It is the policy of the Cassville Democrat not to publish the names of students involved in disciplinary matters.

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