20 April 2009

Denver School of the Arts Lockdown

On Thursday, the Denver School of the Arts had an extended (couple of hours) lockdown, which was not a drill, followed by an even longer modified lockdown. Many children and teachers were terrified, and even a security guard took cover in a classroom during the lockdown. It was prompted by three days of disturbing text messages and some disturbing graffiti on the last school day before the 10th Anniversary of the Columbine school massacre, which, not coincidentally, was a key factor in the development of the lockdown in public schools as my children's generation's answer to the duck and cover drill or the fire drill. A couple of high school students were suspended in connection with incident, which may have flowed in part from mere misunderstandings, and security was slightly increased today. For the most part, the Denver School of the Arts has had relatively few security concerns compared to other schools in the District.

Despite losing their newspaper, the reporters at InDenverTimes the online cooperative venture of former Rocky Mountain News reporters did a better job of covering the breaking news story in the Denver metropolitan area than the Denver Post (its own footnote story entirely credited to its TV news partner 9 News), just as they did when they had a dead tree paper.

As has become the norm in these incidents, the students involved, their teachers and their parents received almost no information about what was going on from the District, adding to the terror, while cell phone equipped students, parents and teachers, and independent media sources like TV news and InDenverTimes rapidly exchanged a mix of rumor and fact trying to figure out what was really going on, and eventually they did learn what had happened, well before the administration provided a bare bones accounting of the incident.

The principal at the Denver School of the Arts has been subject to extended criticism from parents, in part due to allegations of poor communication with parents. The principal submitted a resignation in January effective at the end of the school year, and so will not be returning in that position next year.

The Denver Public Schools, time and again, has failed to learn that providing prompt and substantial factual information from them regarding matters like this which many people have a need to know, prevents panic and false rumors from spreading much faster than keeping close lipped and offering no comment. An appeal for calm doesn't work well when the administration has already hit the panic button, in the absence of full information. The district also undermined its credibility by claiming that it "was not a police case" when, in fact, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was involved in investigating the incident and police came to the school.


Anonymous said...

i attend denver school of the arts and most of these facts are FALSE

lala said...

yes very false! i sgree with anonymus!!