COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs Police arrested a student from School District 49 after a recent pattern of escalating assaultive behavior at Vista Ridge High School. Several emails were also sent to parents on Friday and Sunday, first letting them know about the problem, then letting them know classes would be canceled on Monday.
Parents are reacting to Vista Ridge High School being closed for Monday. Several parents, who didn't want to go on camera for the safety of themselves and their children, said there has been an increase in fights at the school. Now, they want answers as to what exactly is going on.
"This is probably the first time in all of my kids high school history that I've generally been scared to send my child to school," said one parent. "Especially this past quarter. This has not been unusual to hear my son come home and say there were three fights at school today."
On Friday, the school's principal sent an email stating, "We have determined that this pattern is coordinated and documented on a set of social media pages created by VRHS students." On Sunday evening, another email was sent letting parents and students know classes are canceled on Monday.
"Anytime that I see a school taking action, that's good news. It's the school trying to figure out what's going on and taking action," said Susan Payne, the founder of Safe2Tell, an online website and app where people can anonymously report things like bullying, planned school attacks, or dangerous situations.
Payne is also the Executive Director of Safety, Security and Emergency Management - Cheyenne Mountain.
"When kids are crying for help or their behavior is of concern, it's important that we take the steps of prevention and early intervention," said Payne. "The important part of it, is if we get intelligence or information about someone's safety, we take the steps to investigate, slow down, and use resources wisely to try and get to the bottom of it."
Payne says tips to the organization were up 110% last year because kids are back in school after the pandemic, but those numbers still don't match 2018.
"When we see an increase amount of stressers among families and children and even full staff, that puts everyone in a higher risk factor. So I think it is concerning to see an increase in suicides and violence across our country."
Payne also says, it's important that if you see something, say something because safer schools mean safer communities.
"It's difficult because you see the news and you see where it's happening everywhere else. It's not something you think will ever hit close to home. I'm so thankful they closed the school out of an abundance of caution. I feel like this last quarter, it's definitely been a problem at Vista and they need to get a handle on it," said the parent.
Amy Grenfell recently unenrolled her Freshman-year daughter from Vista Ridge High School, after her daughter came home feeling unsafe on a regular basis.
"I feel the same way dropping my husband off for deployment, as I do dropping them off at school sometimes."
She says she always wanted the school district to be transparent with the parents.
"When we see things like that, we don't get a notification from the school... What they're even doing that this happened. If I'm dropping my child off into your school, I expect you to be transparent with me as a parent of anything they may face."
Grenfell's daughter now goes to online public school.