Thursday, April 13 Charlotte High School entered into lockdown after a report of student in possession of a weapon on school property. The student was swiftly apprehended and taken into custody, a thorough search was made of places the student had been, the lockdown was lifted, and students were released on time.
Other schools in the Charlotte district were also placed on lockdown as a simple precaution. No weapon was found on school property, or otherwise in the student’s possession. Further details of the status of the apprehended student were unavailable, though Superintendent Mark Rosekrans indicated the student will be disciplined according to the policies laid out in the student code of conduct.
The most important note in the whole ordeal is that no one was injured. Students and staff were completely unharmed, everyone went home as scheduled, and classes resumed on Friday. During high risk, violence related scenarios, student safety is paramount, and superintendent Rosekrans believes that Charlotte High School, especially, is one of the safest places in the community. He notes that while there is a police officer on duty at the school at most times, the city police, county police, state police, and other emergency responders are all about a two-minute drive away or less. CHS also has the security of internally controlled door locks at main entrances.
Rosekrans is reassured by additional precautions and safety measures at CHS. Lockdown drills have made students and staff swift and efficient in their execution of non-drill lockdowns, for which Thursday’s incident is the second of the 2016-2017 school year. The efficiency of Charlotte’s lockdown is also due in part because of nearly instantaneous internal and external communication.
Rosekrans, along with several other staff members, now have the Panic Button phone app, which sends a silent, immediate alert to all emergency responders in a given area. The app designations for CHS staff members include active shooter, fire, medical, police, 911, and any custom designations pertaining specifically to CHS. The app sends an instantaneous and consistent alert across all staff and emergency responders. The app was used on Thursday and has also been used for things like student injury.
Rosekrans said that he understands that not every scenario can be avoided, but believes that Charlotte High School has taken many advanced safety measures to keep students as safe as possible. What he wants to communicate to parents specifically is that external communication, save for that of emergency responders, is not top priority during situations like Thursday’s. The top priority is always student safety.
“We’re going to make sure we’re secure and everyone is accounted for, then we will communicate out,” Rosekrans said. “We need them (parents) to have the understanding, confidence, and patience to let us deal with the situation at hand.”
On Thursday, the school had apprehended the student, accomplished a thorough search for the weapon, and communicated out to parents within an hour. That kind of swift, and safe process is what CHS students and staff prepare for. In light of many tragic, gun related incidents in the last few years, precautions and processes like those at CHS are absolutely necessary.
Rosekrans reminds readers that while there are those who would insist that armed teachers would be a deterrent for gun related incidents and violence, he and his staff are first and foremost educators. They are trained to educate, and police are trained to protect and enforce the law. While he is grateful for the cooperative and attentive staff at Charlotte Public Schools, he said he is just as grateful for the well-trained and timely emergency responders in Charlotte.