YUMA - A hall pass mistaken for a gun created this morning's scare at San Luis High School.
The thought of guns in our schools brings images of the Columbine massacre, or perhaps the more recent mall shooting outside of Portland, Oregon. It's a frightening prospect, and this one is so close to home.
Fortunately, today was a false alarm, and no students face punishment. In fact, the student who reported seeing a gun is being applauded for doing the right thing; he/she went to an adult.
The school went on lock down.
"All persons on the campus are directed to go into the nearest facility, lock the doors and stay put," explains Gina Thompson, Associate Superintendent of the Yuma Union High School District.
It's called a lock down. Wednesday morning, San Luis High School was placed on one.
Fortunately, it was a false alarm.
"It was basically a misunderstanding. There was an item that a student saw that they thought was a weapon and that student did exactly what they should do," says Thompson.
The student thought they saw another student carrying a gun. The student told an adult, the adult told administration, the administration called police.
When police arrived, they were helped greatly by some silent witnesses.
"We have security cameras in place at all of our campuses and I believe specifically today those cameras being in place and working helped to really get to the source of what the concern was and drill down very quickly with the police department to isolate where the incident happened and led to that information," explains Thompson.
Thompson estimates the lock down was put into place in mere minutes, and she says it lasted about an hour.
The false alarm provided an excellent dress rehearsal for the real thing.
"As always, in any large organization, or small system, you want to make it perfect every time, because the bottom line is the safety of our students and staff is the prime objective," stated Thompson.
This time it was a misunderstanding, and no students face any kind of disciplinary action.
"It was all innocent, and on the very positive side it proves the great procedures we have in place," says Thompson.
But next time it could be a real weapon, a real gun … and the district plans to be ready.
Again, the item mistaken for a gun was an "unofficial" hall pass given to the student by a teacher, not recognized by the District.
Gina Thompson wouldn't identify the item used, but says the hall pass was a classroom item used to prove the student came from a particular class.
Thompson says after today's scary misunderstanding, District staff is likely to get a refresher course on what passes … as a hall pass.
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