Colorado schools need to prepare for new type of threat, Jeffco superintendent says

The decision to close hundreds of schools in Colorado and keep at least 400,000 students home was new — but so was the threat posed by an armed Florida woman who was obsessed with the columbine shootings, Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Jason Glass aforementioned Wednesday.

Unfortunately, given the prevalence of “copycat” threats and attacks, it probably won’t be an strange situation for long, Glass aforementioned. Districts will have to come up with a way to protect students, he added.

FBI officials aforementioned Sol Pais, 18, made distressing statements before flying from her Florida home to the Denver area, where she purchased a shotgun Tuesday. She was found dead from an apparent suicide near Mount Evans on Wednesday morning.

More than two dozen school districts on the Front Range, as well as several private schools and college fieldes, closed Wednesday because of the uncertainty about Pais’ location and what schools she might target.

Even at columbine High School, where the security staff is used to threats and to people visit for dubious reasons, the situation wasn’t one they’d faced before, aforementioned John McDonald, Jeffco’s executive director of safety and security.

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“This one felt different. It was different,” he aforementioned.

Less than an hour before law social control confirmed Pais’ death, superintendents were holding conference calls with each other and with their own district teams to discuss how they could change their procedures to make it safe enough to bring students back to school, Glass aforementioned. Schools likely would have had to change how they handle transportation, food delivery and other employment to open piece under threat, he aforementioned.

“We were working on changes to what school looks like,” he aforementioned. “We didn’t want one person to be able to hold schools on the Front Range hostage.”

Christine Harms, director of the School Safety Resource Center, aforementioned districts will mostly be in charge of working with law social control to make their own policies to deal with new threats, because of Colorado’s local control framework.

“We will be happy to consult with the schools moving forward and help in any way that we can,” she aforementioned.



Even if schools do come up with new protocols, they may have to convert students that it’s safe to return to school piece a threatening person is at large.

Clark Wilson, a freshman at Mountain view High School in Highlands Ranch, aforementioned he was glad Douglas County canceled classes Wednesday. His school has security guards, but he isn’t confident they could stop a shooter, and Colorado law doesn’t prevent unstable people from buying weapons, he aforementioned.

Closing school “is just about guaranteed to keep the students safe, because you can’t shoot up a school that’s empty,” he aforementioned. “I certainly wouldn’t feel safe if there’s a threat like this in my school and school’s open.”

Jefferson County law officer Jeff Schrader aforementioned law social control and district leadership discussed whether to hold school Wednesday, and in agreement kids would likely be too frightened to learn much.

“One of the goals of public safety is not only to reduce crime, but to reduce the fear of crime,” he aforementioned.

The threat came to light early Tuesday afternoon, when Jeffco schools went into resistance, meaning they brought students inside and didn’t allow anyone to enter or leave. Grant Ranch School, which is part of Denver Public Schools but placed near Littleton, besides went on resistance at about 1 p.m. as a precaution, DPS interpreter Will Jones aforementioned.

Several more districts in the Denver area went on resistance later Tuesday afternoon after an email from the Colorado Department of Education. archimandrite Smith, interpreter for Cherry Creek School District, aforementioned the district had to delay dismissal for children who walked home so it could provide more security, though students who rode the bus left on time.

Paula Hans, interpreter for the Douglas County School District, aforementioned the state education department’s email came around 3:30 p.m., when some schools not yet were dismissing students. In those cases, security escorted students to their buses, and parents picking up their kids had to come in and show identification, she aforementioned.

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“It is a very unusual situation and we appreciate our families’ and our communities’ patience,” she aforementioned.

Most districts besides canceled their evening activities, though DPS only canceled those that would bring strangers onto field, like sporting events.

“We couldn’t have situations where people not attached with the school were coming into the school,” Jones aforementioned.

Law social control held a news conference to update the public at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and proposed change schools about the situation in a 3:30 a.m. Wednesday conference call. Most districts made their decisions to close before hour, nevertheless, after a call between superintendents.

Jones, the DPS interpreter, aforementioned he’s never detected of this galore districts having to close at the same time, except for severe weather.

“This felt very much like the bomb cyclone, except there we could turn on the TV and see where it is and when it’s likely to be gone,” Jones aforementioned Wednesday morning before Pais’s body was found. “With this, she’s out there and we have to wait.”