Parent says Douglas High School failed to follow threat policy

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BOX ELDER, SD (KOTA TV) - Parents of Douglas High School students are frustrated with the way the school handled a recent threat.

Douglas High School administrators and police caught wind of a possible threat before school on December sixth. But they did not want to create a panic so they did not start lockdown procedures. In fact, students were able to arrive on campus like any other day.

According to their STAR protocol, which stands for school threat assessment response, administrators are supposed to assume the threat is serious and in the case of a known threat, they should have locked down the school.

A parent who has several kids at Douglas High School is concerned for her children’s' safety.

Heather Burmeister, says "it's not easy when you are wondering about your kids all day long. Wondering if they're okay, how their day is going to go, if they are going to come home, what's going to happen to them when they pull into the school?"

These are the thoughts Burmeister has after the way Douglas High School handled a student threat. In the words of the district, the student admits to joking about “shooting up the school.”

But it's the way the school officials approached the issue that poses a problem in Burmeister's eyes.

"The way I'm understanding it that this had been known for a while and that's the biggest thing that bothers me," states Burmeister.

According to Burmeister and the school district, at seven in the morning on December sixth, Box Elder dispatch was alerted to the threat. The superintendent found out 15 minutes later. But parents didn't learn about the threat until almost two hours after box elder police had been called.

"The liaison officer and superintendent told their children that morning not to go to school. They were more concerned of their own children and not the hundreds of other students in that school,” explains Burmeister. “I expect my children amongst every other child's safety to be a concern, not just staff's own children."

According the school district, the threats made by the student were a joke but regardless if it was a joke or not, Burmeister does not want these situations taken lightly.

We reached out to Superintendent Alan Kerr and had an interview set up. However his assistant called and cancelled that interview. We're told it was cancelled on the advice of the district's attorney.

Among other things, we wanted to ask him if the school is looking at changing its security protocols and if he could explain reports from other sources that his child was kept home the day of the threat.

In a related development, the school sent out a paper to all the students to report issues if they hear of anything regarding bullying, intimidation, harassment, weapons, drugs, or anything else they feel they need to talk about.