False Alarm Provokes School Lockdown


Last Friday morning, students and teachers at Top of the World Elementary received an inside look at the district’s disaster planning. At least one detail apparently needs work.

Administrators placed the campus on lockdown about 9:11 a.m. due to a report by a third-grader that evolved darkly into a suspicious character on campus wearing a black mask and carrying a backpack, police Sgt. Louise Callus said.

The third-grader provided a description of what he observed to his mother, who told administrators, Callus said. “The office staff tried calling 911, but when the call didn’t go through, they assumed the phone lines had been cut,” said Callus, who said district administrators that had been contacted internally by TOW officials informed police.

Multiple police units responded and began a search. Callus interviewed the student-witness, who clarified that the man was not on campus, was carrying a trash bag, and that the mask was most likely a dust mask like those worn by gardeners.

The office staff also realized their phones were working normally, Callus said. They had just forgotten to dial 9 for an outside line, she said.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Supt. Sherine Smith thanked the TOW staff for calmly and efficiently handling the lockdown without disrupting normal class routines.

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