Schools placed on lockdown; parent says VISD did not do enough to protect students

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Jan. 7, 2013 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 7, 2013 at 7:08 p.m.

Several nearby school campuses were placed on a lockdown during Monday's shooting, but at least one parent said the Victoria school district should have done more to protect its students.

Officials put Howell Middle School and Rowland Elementary School on what is called a "perimeter lockdown" as a precaution about 2 p.m. after they got word that police were investigating a possible shooting at the Holiday Acres Mobile Home Park.

A perimeter lockdown means that all students are taken inside from the playground and practice fields, all the exterior doors are locked, and only law enforcement or those with a medical emergency are allowed in and out, VISD spokesperson Diane Boyett said.

As things became more clear and the district learned the shooting actually occurred at the Crestwood Apartment complex on Melrose Avenue, the lockdown at those campuses was lifted about 30 minutes later, she said.

At that point, the elementary campus closest to Melrose, Shields, didn't get locked down because police already had the suspect contained, she said.

She said those Shields students who normally walk home were held about 10 minutes after their normal dismissal time of 3:05 p.m. and then escorted by a Victoria County Sheriff's Office captain, a sergeant and several faculty members to the area.

Boyett said parents were notified of the situation via a phone call from a 4-year-old automated alert system called EduLink. Those who didn't get the call may not have registered or updated their phone number with the school district.

Apryl Johnson, 30, who lives at Crestwood Apartment complex, said she hasn't changed her number in a year, and about 10 p.m. Monday, she and several other angry parents in her neighborhood were still waiting for her call to arrive.

"The worst thing you can do is mess with a momma bear," she said, adding she plans to complain Tuesday.

Johnson happened to be off work Monday and watched, horrified, as her son, a Shield's Elementary School second-grader, took his usual path home - this time, as police had their weapons drawn.

"He was terrified," she recalled later. "He said, 'Mom, what's going on? I'm scared. Let's go inside.'"

Johnson said no kid should have to walk into something like that and that every school should have been notified, no matter how far away.

"And I don't think VISD took that into consideration. I don't know if it's a social standing thing because this is considered an impoverished or ghetto area," she said.

Boyett said the district doesn't take chances with its kids.

"This is absurd to believe that the school district would place the safety and security of one child over another child based on their economic status," she said.

She said letters will be sent home to Rowland and Shields parents Tuesday. She added the only reason Howell sent theirs home Monday is because they have a later dismissal time of 3:30 p.m. Boyett also did not anticipate any type of community meeting about the incident.

Boyett said she could understand parents' angst, but that overall, "the lines of communication were very good" between the district and law enforcement.



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