, Derry, New Hampshire


January 23, 2014

Editorial: When students face threat, parents need to know


Underhill said the school followed its safety procedures in responding to the potential threat.

“Upon receiving the information, we followed safety protocol by immediately contacting the Derry Police Department, which quickly responded, quickly determined the student in question had no weapon, and quickly determined there was no threat,” he said.

Had police determined the information was credible, “additional steps would have been taken,” he said.

Some parents questioned why the school did not go into “lockdown”, herding students into designated safe areas until the threat was resolved. Underhill said the time of day, as students were being dismissed, factored into the decision.

Police agreed that a lockdown was not warranted.

“The school did everything they needed to do,” Thomas later told our reporter. “We had a student under our supervision as soon as we got there.”

We’re inclined to agree that Pinkerton handled the threat properly and that police responded appropriately and well.

But Pinkerton dropped the ball in failing to communicate promptly with parents to explain what had happened.

A day later, Pinkerton sent emails to parents and posted a report on its website. But by then, the rumor mill already was in full gear.

This is the age of instant communications. Pinkerton may have believed that it was fine to inform parents the next day. But, as the Facebook traffic made clear, parents were already talking about the incident and worrying about the way it was handled.

Pinkerton officials could have avoided inflicting that unnecessary worry on parents by sending our emails and making calls immediately to explain that a firearm report had been made, responded to and found to be untrue. Surely, there still would have been some parents who objected to the nature of the response. But no one could say Pinkerton had not done everything necessary -- responding to the threat and keeping parents informed.

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