Principal: South Pointe followed rules on school lockdown

dworthington@heraldonline.comFebruary 22, 2013 

South Pointe High School officials followed all of the security lockdown procedures Wednesday after students received a Twitter message indicating there would be a shooting after school, Principal Al Leonard said Friday.

School district officials told The Herald Thursday that the school had failed to notify the transportation office, resulting in a bus dropping off students returning from the Applied Technology Center during the lockdown. Because the school was locked down, the students could not enter the building.

Leonard said Friday that the phone list provided to Rock Hill schools does not require individual schools to call the transportation office.

“We had a checklist, and we did everything on that,” Leonard said.

Schools spokeswoman Elaine Baker said Friday the procedure requires the “appropriate person” to notify the transportation office. Baker said she was “under the impression” when she talked Thursday about the incident that the appropriate person was someone at South Pointe.

School administrators are scheduled to meet Monday to review the school emergency plans and determine “who is responsible for what,” Baker said.

On Thursday, district officials revised the procedure for bus drivers. If they arrive at a school and see police cars, students will be kept on the bus until the driver is told it is OK to release them. The bus will be moved to a safe location while a school is under security lockdown, Baker said.

Leonard said South Pointe administrators realized there was “a hole” in the emergency plans when they met after the incident Wednesday. One of the things they were trying to determine was why a bus arrived on campus, letting students off during the lockdown.

Leonard praised students and teachers for their response to Wednesday’s incident.

Students informed teachers about the Twitter message. Administrators told the school resource officer, who called 911, Leonard said.

According to a Rock Hill Police report, the incident was reported at 2 p.m. About 15 officers responded to the campus, searching the school, parking lots and perimeter.

About 15 minutes before the regular 3:40 p.m. dismissal time, Leonard said the school began the security lockdown.

After the search was completed, police notified school officials that it was safe to release students, and South Pointe students were dismissed at their regular time.

At no time were the students who got off the bus in danger, Leonard and Rock Hill police said.

Leonard also confirmed there was a lunchroom fight involving four students Wednesday. School officials “dealt with it immediately,” and the issue was resolved, he said. Police are investigating whether the fight was related to the threat of violence.

About 4 p.m. Wednesday, Leonard said he called all South Pointe parents informing them “all I knew.” He followed that with a message during the school video announcements, praising students for their conduct during the incident.

Jim Vining, chairman of the Rock Hill school board, said Safe Havens International has been asked to review the incident. Safe Havens International, a school safety consulting firm, recently presented its review of school security, urging district officials to beef up crisis management plans and enact tighter security measures.

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066

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