NewsDenver7 360 | In-Depth News, Opinion


Should 600,000 Colorado students miss class because of the threat of one teenager?

Posted at 10:50 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 01:39:01-04

Editor's Note: Denver7 360 stories explore multiple sides of the topics that matter most to Coloradans, bringing in different perspectives so you can make up your own mind about the issues. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at . See more 360 stories here.

DENVER -- Should a threat made by one teenager prevent half a million others from going to class?

For many of you, that answer was simple — your child wasn't going to class regardless of a district's decision. Yet we heard from others who believe this is a slippery slope.

Erring on the side of caution

"The inconvenience is worth the chance of our kids being safe," said parent Mark Feldmier.

"Yes, I think they had to be safe," said another parent, Betty Kuehner.

"I'd rather err on the side of caution, "said Amanda Cross.

The majority of the people Denver7 spoke with agreed with the decision made by more than 150 school districts across the Front Range to cancel classes Wednesday, but enough parents disagreed to warrant a 360 look at the issue.

Student traumatized by the threat

"I was like, panicking; I thought someone was going to get shot at my school," said Legend High School student Ethan Reed, who watched his fellow students react in terror as news of the lockout spread.

Reed said closing his school was the right choice, but now he's not sure when he'll return.

"I'm still really scared about what could happen tomorrow," he said.

Parents split on decision from district, think more should be done

Reed's mother, Kathleen Miller-Reed, agreed with the decision and says permanent armed security guards may be what schools need to deter future problems.

"At what point and how armed they are is unclear, but I definitely think there should be security in schools," she said.

But other parents disagreed.

Warren Kuehner says adding more guns to the mix, through added security or otherwise, is not the answer.

"I think we need to do more to think about the gun culture in this country, in addition to just arming everyone to the teeth," said Kuehner.

George Vlcek says this was all overkill and holding hundreds of thousands of Colorado kids out of school because of an 18 year old is the wrong move.

"Seems like they could have held them, secured them more without closing the schools down," he said.

On social media, Linda agreed strongly, saying shutting down schools "gave the power to one person whose actions affected 600,000. Why don't schools start taking action and install metal detectors at every school?" she asked.

But Tony Dagostino said parents would be demanding answers from officials if something terrible ended up happening.

"If something had happened where things got out of control and they didn't close the schools, then people would have been talking about how they didn't do enough," he said.

School administrator defends the closures

Dr. Jason Glass, the Jeffco Schools Superintendent, sympathized with angry parents but said closing the schools was the right thing to do.

"With Columbine and two other school shootings in our history, we have quite a robust system of safety and support deployed and out in place in instances like these, but it is disruptive," he said.

Pro-gun group in Colorado says schools are unprepared

"Today's incident just showed Coloradans how unprotected their schools are," said Dudley Moore of the Rocky Gun Owner's Group.

Moore further stated the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, more commonly known as the Brady Act, "actually worked in this case because she was legally able to purchase a firearm."

FBI agent says the ends justify the means

"I've heard from parents who say, 'My God, this is what one 18-year-old girl can do to the Front Range and half a million students or more. What do you say to parents who say this was an overreach?," asked a reporter during a news conference Wednesday.

"As a parent? I would say, 'thank you to the school system for protecting my child,'" said FBI special agent Dean Phillips.

The more than half a million students who missed classes on Wednesday will return to classes Thursday, officials from school districts across the Front Range said by the end of the day. All school activities will go back to normal, but there will be an increased safety presence and heightened security measures in place.