Lyndon Institute lockdown reveals problems

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LYNDON, Vt. (WCAX) Over a week ago, reports of a gun on campus sent the Lyndon Institute into lockdown. Police, administration, staff members and students were all notified, but parents were left in the dark because of a system error.

The gun turned out to be just an umbrella, but the incident revealed a different problem, the school's notification system failed to tell parents.

“The first communication, I didn't get anything from the school. I got it from a colleague of mine,” said Alleson Hamelin, a Lyndon Institute parent.

That colleague saw something on social media and texted Hamelin for more information, but Hamelin knew nothing about it. But she was OK with that because she wants the school's focus to be on the students.

"When we get communications about different things, people panic and I think that can cause more chaos and get in the way of what's going on," Hamelin said.

Six hundred kids attend the Lyndon Institute and the school tried to notify their parents via robocall, text message and email during the incident. However, the messenger system failed.

"We have a school messenger system that unfortunately did not work the way it was supposed to," said Twila Perry, Head of School at the Lyndon Institute.

The school used social media to communicate with parents. School officials are pleased with the reach. They say right after the incident, their Facebook post was viewed 17,000 times and shared more than 200.

But some parents were still not happy to be left in the dark.

"There could be some changes as far as letting the parents know at a more appropriate time," said Brian Fenoff, a parent.

Fenoff says he was lucky because he happened to be on social media at the time.

"Some of the kids in this school had to tell their parents about it, they knew nothing about it," he said.

After 40 minutes, the lockdown was lifted. Police say there was no gun, just a person with an umbrella. As for school officials, they said they did their job keeping everyone safe.

"Procedurally our responsibility as teachers and administrators is to make sure our students are secure," Perry said.

Perry says the messenger system has been fixed. Should an emergency happen, a robocall will go out to parents. That call will tell parents how to communicate with their kids and where to meet them should they need to be picked up.

Officials also urge to check social media for updates.