Fear of fatality: Parents flock to protect students

Zahara Latson, Staff Writer

Most parents take pride in sending their kids off to school each morning, knowing that they will sit amongst their peers to be taught, fed and eventually returned home. This is a routine that parents expect from their everyday life — something that becomes almost second nature. Unfortunately, this routine comes with the possibility of danger and a world of unimaginable dread — when parents bid their child a good day at school, it might be their last. San Antonio parents at Jefferson High School experienced this unthinkable event on Tuesday, Sept. 13, as they were confronted with a lockdown that sparked a frenzy surrounding the school. The conflict between parents and authorities ended with the parents being detained in handcuffs. One parent even went as far as breaching a classroom by breaking a window in an attempt to get their child to safety. Although the school was cleared with no casualties and no outside threats, parents were still very on edge after receiving chilling text messages from their terrified children. Speculation stirred that this panic was brought about by miscommunication with the parents with authorities telling them to just “stay away” from the school. After experiencing yet another tragedy, parents are in the right to question and even doubt the procedures that authorities and schools practice when handling hostile situations such as these. 

Reporters have correlated Jefferson’s chaotic altercation with the devastating massacre in Uvalde, Texas over three months ago on May 24. The horrific incident not only shook the community but also dwindled trust in security and emergency procedures — more specifically, the delays in police response on the day of the Uvalde massacre. Since then, questions have been raised about the school’s policies on locked doors and campus and local police procedures in the state of an emergency. 

San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) have gone out of their way to post this information on their respective websites, detailing their standard response protocol, preventive security measures, an info sheet about reunification and more. The SAISD Police Department’s website included an emergency operations plan from their district’s police, stating parents should not call or come to the school in the accommodation of emergency responders. Instead, they advise that you “Stay tuned to local stations” to figure out whether or not the situation is life-threatening. 

The expectation that parents should be patient and composed while an active threat to their child may be taking place is not only incredibly unrealistic but insensitive to parents in situations like these. What parents are pleading for is action. They want direct communication from officers, secure school grounds and classrooms and most importantly, the restoration of trust that if their child is in danger swift action will be taken by authorities to save as many lives as possible as quickly as possible. 

There are plenty of situations where overcrowding of schools with concerned parents can be incredibly counterintuitive, stopping officers from receiving resources, distracting the officers from possible additional threats posed to the school and more. However, if parents had faith that police officers would think about their child’s safety over sanitizing their hands on site of an emergency, there would be less of a need for parents to feel they have to take these situations into their own hands. Improving procedures and educating your community can limit the chaos that repeatedly ensues in situations as anxiety-inducing as these. 

With the concentration of automatic firearms in the United States and the chronic mental health crisis, what people need is to have someone they can trust to protect themselves, their families and friends. But without action, nothing will change. Guardians of children from all levels of education can make that change. By posing challenges to current policies limiting communication with parents, ineffectively enforcing campus security and allowing under-trained and unprofessional authorities into the field, parents can begin to work towards a future where they can send their children to school without worrying if their child’s life is in the wrong hands.