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ELC parents question school’s response to text threat

October 27, 2017
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

The Estherville Lincoln Central Board heard concerns from parents about school officials' response to a threatening text message that was received by an ELC student two weeks ago.

Autumn Turner said she was disappointed that parents weren't notified sooner about the threat and that students' safety wasn't taken into account. She also noted that when ELC received a bomb threat last year, that the notification procedure in the policy wasn't followed.

Kayleigh White, a parent of a third grade, took issue with the ALICE Training, a method of responding to an active shooter.

"It's all theory and never been tested," she said. Through online research, White said she discovered that one of the first schools to use the ALICE training decided to consider alternatives.

Brent Kottke, said that one officer on campus is not enough.

"You have three buildings and nearly 1,500 students and staff," he said.

School resource officer Nate Dunlavy said the response to the text threat was handled well.

"It was a good team effort and it was nice to work with administration directly," he said. "We do things as quickly as possible and try not to create wide spread panic or over react."

Dunlavy noted that the ELC message was not like the other messages received by other schools in Iowa that week that forced some, like Algona, to close for a day.

The author of the ELC message, a 15-year-old juvenile, was caught later in the week.

ELC school board member Duane Schnell commended both the administration and police for their efforts.

"I'm thankful that we have Nate and the administration working together and they were able to do it without any undue panic," he said.

The board was also asked why it doesn't have a policy in the event of a threatening message.

"It's tough to have a one-size-fits all policy," said board member Melissa Regelstad.

Dunlavy, who became the first resource officer in ELC history back in January, said he would review how he conducts ALICE Training next year.

ELC middle school parents were sent a message warning what day the training would take place had the opportunity to keep their children home that day. Elementary students did not have that option. Dunlavy said that option would be provided next year.

In his report to the school board, ELC High School Principal Brad Leonard stated, " I want to thank everyone who was involved in our threat to the school. As I look back and evaluate how it was handled, I do not find many if any protocols I would charge or did not go well. There will always be those who are critical in a situation like this, and we can never stop looking for ways to improve. But our law enforcement did an outstanding job of working with the school to ensure the threat was taken seriously and investigated. Unfortunately for our students, this is the new world we live in-all we can do is continue to improve and help keep everyone safe."

In other business Monday, the board approved a bid for a Blue Bird bus for just under $84,500. ELC superintendent Tara Paul said funds from the 1-cent sales tax proceeds would be used to purchase the bus. Delivery is expected in December or January.



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