EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

Parents outraged over district response to school gun incident

Mar 3, 2023, 10:53 AM | Updated: Mar 4, 2023, 2:25 pm

CEDAR CITY — Parents expressed outrage and demanded accountability during a city council meeting in Cedar City Wednesday, two days after a student says a teenager pointed what looked like a gun at him while on campus.

From the perspective of police and school officials during the city council meeting, the response to the alleged gun incident at Canyon View High school went about as smoothly as it could have.

“I think it’s important for the public to know that law enforcement and school officials were working hand in hand during the investigation and subsequent arrest,” said Chief Darin Adams with the Cedar City Police Department.

“This was, I think, unprecedented cooperation between a school district and law enforcement,” Lance Hatch with Iron County School District Superintendent said.

Hatch praised their response, even going so far as to say, “I wish we were celebrating right now because this happened perfectly.”

But it didn’t take long during the public comment period to see that no one behind him was celebrating.

“What did you do to protect them?! You guys are getting pats on the back, but I don’t see it!” one mother said. “This was unacceptable. And nothing any of you guys have said has made any of us feel any better!”

According to Chief Adams, on Monday a student came to the school resource officer around 1:30 p.m. and told him that an hour earlier a teen he knew had pointed what looked like a gun at him. The student told the officer he was not interested in cooperating with any investigation into the matter.

The officer went to the parking lot where the student said it happened and checked surveillance. The school was not put on lockdown and parents, students and teachers were not notified.

“I am very, very livid that it was not taken seriously. My daughter was there,” one parent, who is also a teacher in the school district said.

An hour later the officer learned the same teen had returned to the parking lot and assaulted a different student.

“The immediate response of the school district and the school resource officer should have been to lockdown that school immediately at the threat of a gun and figure out later if it was a credible threat,” Dan Kidder, who lives in Cedar City said.

“How dare you risk the lives of these children while you figure out if this was a credible threat! In the meantime, while you did that that kid came back and assaulted somebody!”

The next day officers found evidence the suspect may possess a gun and may have posted threats to social media. They kept watch on the home of the suspect, who Hatch said was a student in the online program.

The school didn’t go on lockdown until close to 1 p.m. when officers arrested him at his home. Many parents didn’t learn what happened on Monday until Tuesday night. Some kept their children home from school on Wednesday.

“If I don’t feel safe for my kids they’re not going to go to the school. That’s it,” one father said.

“We’ve definitely heard the frustration from the community and we are trying to respond to those concerns,” Shauna Lund said in a call with KSL.

Lund is the spokesperson for the district. She said the safety of students is a top priority for them.

“We also don’t feel like the wrong response was given, given the information we had,” she said.

The district plans to continue the conversation with police Chief Darin Adams.

“My officers worked tirelessly to make sure that we had the school safe,” Adams said.

Adams said he spoke to many of the concerned parents after the meeting. He apologized for not sending out more information sooner. He said he understood their frustrations and would be asking questions to see how they can improve their response in the future.

“We are all about internal evaluation and looking at our strategies, practices and policies,” he said.

Two school board members who were present at the city council meeting also assured parents and the community that their concerns were heard and they would be addressing them in their next meeting.

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Parents outraged over district response to school gun incident