Experts explain how certain school threats are handled - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Experts explain how certain school threats are handled

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Parents are growing frustrated with persistent threats and a perceived lack of communication from schools, but experts say there's a reason each incident is handled in a particular way and one day's response may not look like the last.

Frazzled parents rushed to the South Burlington city offices as they waited to whisk their kids out of apparent danger.

"I think it's kind of crazy, I mean we saw what happened in Essex and now two days in a row here," said Joe Finnigan, South Burlington High School parent.  

"As a parent, it's one of the worst feelings," said Shelly Corley, South Burlington High School parent.

Corley says she's upset school reopened after Wednesday's threat. She won't risk another worry-filled day Friday.

"My child's not safe and I'm going to make the decision that he's not going to come back tomorrow," said Corley.

Many who waited across the street from the school heard about the threat directly from their children. Official word came an hour after the lockdown began.

"All we're getting is the texts from our kids in the school, and the stuff they're sharing with us is kind of scary," said Finnigan. 

"The key is to provide credible and accurate information in these types of situations," said Rob Evans, Education and Public Safety Liaison.

Evans' job is to serve as an intermediary between schools, the Vt. Agency of Education and law enforcement. He says while students will send out texts immediately, the district needs to be more cautious. To provide wrong information would only compound a crisis and safety needs to come first.

"The information that you put out to parents also has to be coordinated with local first response organizations, because the information you're putting out may distract from the investigation," said Evans. 

Parents say notifications could still come faster.

"I understand that their first priority is getting kids safe, second is dealing with law enforcement, but I think they should err on the side of getting us what they can when they can," said Finnigan.

Parents also voiced confusion about the variety of responses seen over the last week and change. Evans trains school leaders across the state on best practices and differences in response stem from available resources and the threat's credibility.

Accurate, specific details about the school, students and staff elicit a bigger response, as seen in Essex Junction last week and South Burlington Thursday.

"The trouble with this is the first time that we don't have a level of response that's gauged upon the credibility of the threat, is the one time that bad things take place," said Evans. 

Experts say they can't let prior hoaxes get in the way of taking serious threats seriously.

Evans says law enforcement learns more with each threat and plenty of resources will be devoted to finding whoever's behind these.

Right now, he says there's no way to say how to adapt, but he stopped short of saying there's no way to stop this constant state of crisis.

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