Private schools were not notified about potential threat

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 12, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY ó The Rowan County Sheriffís Office is looking at how schools are notified of threats after private schools in the county said they werenít warned about a possible shooter last month.
ěWe were never contacted,î said Sacred Heart principal Frank Cardelle. ěWe learned about it on the Internet.î
Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said several private schools in the county received calls from concerned parents about the threat and potential lockdowns.
Public schools were notified of a possible concern on Oct. 26 after Salisbury Police began investigating a potential threat of a mass killing spree.
Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins said authorities spoke to the individual in question and found no reason to charge or keep the man in custody. The threat was not specifically at schools, but it was worrisome enough to warn school officials.
Sgt. Robert Price of the Rowan County Sheriffís Office works with schools around the county and said heís requesting a meeting with the school systems and other law enforcement agencies to discuss the issue.
ěDr. Hart sent a message to the principals and assistant principals that there was a concern and to be on the lookout,î Price said. ěThe deficiency that became apparent was the fact that this did not include notifying the private schools.î
Price said authorities received calls from parents and private school administrators requesting information about the believed threat. Price said administrators were notified that no schools were in lock down and the issue had been resolved.
ěIíve spoken now with the directors of about a half dozen of the private schools and that was primarily their big concern,î Price said. ěThey were getting phone calls from family members who have students at their schools or somebody on the outside wanting ot know what theyíre doing about it.î
If one of the public schools would have went into lockdown, Price said, then nearby private schools would have been contacted by the locked down school.
ěPart of their protocol is to notify schools in the general area,î Price said. ěThis is all done after they call 911.î
ěWithin the schools, when they go to lockdown, theyíre kind of protecting each other,î Price said. ěThat gives the principal at that schools enough information that they can make a determination.î
Cardelle said security at Sacred Heart was increased and students were not allowed to leave the building, but that the school did not go into a full lockdown.
ěThe big question is, ëDid they think it was a real threat for schools?í î Cardelle said.
Sacred Heart is one of six private schools that work with the Sheriffís Office to do lockdown training and drills.
ěThe Sheriffís department has been extremely helpful in setting up our lockdown procedures over the last few years,î Cardelle said. ěHe comes up to our school quite often and makes sure we have emergency boxes in the right place, and maps and keys.î
Auten said he is asking that schools and law enforcement agencies meet to discuss the issue.
ěWeíll have to work out those logistics,î Auten said. ěI think in an emergency, and I canít speak for them, but I think everybody would be for the good of the cause.î