Parents have lots of questions in wake of Sentinel HS lockdown

Posted at 3:25 PM, Jan 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-18 18:53:05-05

MISSOULA – Sentinel High School officials addressed parents questions and concern about safety on Thursday evening after a loaded gun magazine was found early this week.

After sitting through the more than two-hour long meeting, parents seemed concerned about a litany of items surrounding school security in the wake of the incident.

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Sentinel High School Principal Ted Fuller did his best at being as transparent about all the details surrounding the incident and questions about what the school does now.

One question that some concerned parents had at the meeting was about the lack of working security cameras in the building.

Ongoing construction and renovations at the school have taken the Sentinel camera system offline and it will continue to be, but the school does have a plan in the meantime.

“I will communicate with you as I have harder dates timelined, but I want you to know that we have initiated a process to get a contingency camera system — 15, 16 cameras — installed in key high traffic areas before the full system gets installed,” Fuller explained.

Another question asked by multiple parents was about the timeliness of the notifications that were sent to them about Monday’s lockdown.

“I see messages from parents and they don’t know whats going on. I think the kids should have their phone — and I understand that’s not going to be decided tonight. But I think as a group someone would have to explain to me why my son shouldn’t be allowed to have his phone,” one concerned parent said.

“Why can’t we have our kids on cellphones? Why can’t we be texting them and getting email updates? That’s not our job. Our job is to make sure that no body gives it away that we are in that space,” Sentinel teacher Jessica Franks said. “We are like little baby deer out in the woods and there is a hunter coming. What can we do? Surely not glow.”

There were lots of questions that can’t be answered quickly but at this point, Fuller says that MCPS and the Missoula Police Department have done everything they can to determine whether the school is safe enough to attend.

“We along with the PD have conducted an investigation to try to find any whisper of information about why this was brought,” Fuller said. “What the person’s intentions was? Any other indication of a threat on students social media — and have found nothing.

We don’t have anything to base — on which to base — a higher level of alarm and say close school. Or not allow students here,” he concluded.

Parents also had concerns about how their students now deal with the emotions of being in such a stressful situation.

Fuller said he will be available at lunch in the school cafeteria to talk with any concerned students and try to ease their minds.

Sentinel High School was locked down for several hours on 1.14.19 after a loaded gun magazine was found. (MTN News photo)

Reporting by Connor McCauley for MTN News