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Communication concerns regarding school security

Secure perimeters explained after Pueblo standoff
Communication concerns about school security
Posted at 10:46 PM, Sep 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 00:46:01-04

PUEBLO — News 5 followed up on the Pueblo standoff that lasted for hours on Monday, which sent nearby schools into a secure perimeter for a few hours. One parent reached out to News 5, because she said she wanted more information about the security measure, and why School District 60 waited to send out an alert.

Both Central High School and Heritage Elementary School were sent into a secure perimeter on Monday, as a result of the SWAT standoff. The standoff did not result in an arrest. Those with the Pueblo Police Department said they were searching for 32-year-old Jonathan Predovich, who was wanted for a parole violation. A representative for the police department said Predovich is now facing additional charges of kidnapping and second degree assault.

Jonathan Predovich
Jonathan Predovich mug shot from the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office.

Those with School District 60 said a secure perimeter means nobody can enter or exit the building during that time. The representative also said a secure perimeter does not interrupt the school day, and is a precautionary measure when law enforcement is in the area.

Local mother Laura Childress said she found out about the secure perimeter after she had already gone to Heritage Elementary School to pick up her son. She said she was not the only parent there, and some of them began talking about the situation. "We were all kind of like, standing around and discussing what do we do next, do we go back home, do we wait, we don't know how long this is going to be... I think that they came over the PA and said they wanted the parents to leave the premises because it was not safe, but it's hard to leave your kid in that situation because if the police think that it's a dangerous area, you're not going to walk away from your child," said Childress.

Childress said she was not exactly sure what a secure perimeter was at the time. "You want to hope for the best, prepare for the worst. And you just immediately think about your child and how they're feeling, what they're going through, how they're reacting," said Childress. She said she's not upset with School District 60, but wanted more information about the reasoning behind the secure perimeter.

Those with School District 60 said a lockdown is more serious than a secure perimeter. "We will send out notifications, nearly immediately, if there's a concern inside the school building, if there's any need to go on what we call a lockdown, and that is a more severe situation that we have strategies in place to deal with. Those notifications will go out because at that point, this is an emergency," said Dalton Sprouse, the director of communications for School District 60.

Sprouse also said the district alerts parents about a secure perimeter when it affects the start or end of a school day, like it did on Monday, when students were released later than usual. Sprouse said the secure perimeter was put in place around noon that day, and parents received an alert around 3 p.m. "We don't want to create that sort of panic with a secure perimeter announcement that would come with potentially a lockdown announcement... We'll always err on the side of caution, we'll always work closely with our local police department, to make sure that we're working hand in hand," said Sprouse.

Sprouse mentioned the terminology for security instances like these can vary from district to district. "I think that we need to use the same terminology across the board. I think that it's going to cause less confusion," said Childress. Sprouse said School District 60 worked with the Pueblo Police Department to determine what language they use.

Other terms parents within School District 60 may hear are evacuation or shelter-in-place. Sprouse said both of those typically have to do with severe weather.

Sprouse also said parents should keep their contact information updated. For School District 60, Sprouse said that can be done through a site called Infinite Campus.