MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – After learning of a school shooting threat, a group of parents in Midland are demanding answers from Jones Elementary school leaders.
Those parents said they were notified of a school shooting threat too late.
Midland Independent School District confirmed that a shooting threat was found on a handwritten note on the playground of Jones Elementary School on Monday night. On Tuesday, families with students enrolled at Jones Elementary received a school-wide phone call notifying them of the threat.
Midland ISD Police were notified of the threat immediately after its discovery, the statement read.
However, some parents said they should have received notification of the shooting threat – credible or not – immediately after school leaders were made aware. On Tuesday afternoon, they voiced their frustration and concerns to Principal Angie Aron during a meeting on campus.
Aron told the parents she learned of the handwritten threat on Monday night during “after hours.” She said she notified law enforcement immediately. Aron went on to say she had to gather evidence and exercise due process to investigate the threat.
On Tuesday morning, Aron said she identified potential suspects and interviewed them on campus.
“Once I gathered the details from those students, then I made a call-out to the parents to let you all know that someone had written the note,” Principal Aron said during the meeting.
Robert Eicher, whose daughter attends Jones Elementary, said he disagreed with Aron’s process of notifying parents.
“The parents of the kids who go to the school should have been alerted immediately, not when you felt you had the knowledge. You’re not an investigator. You don’t know for sure,” said parent Robert Eicher to Principal Aron. “I don’t care if it’s 2:00 in the morning. You failed me and you failed my child.”
Before the meeting, Yourbasin.com spoke with Eicher.
“If you found out last night, would your daughter be going to school today?” reporter Rob Tooke asked.
“No sir, she wouldn’t be here today, tomorrow, or the rest of the week,” Eicher responded.
Eicher added: “MISD needs to address this situation and really acknowledge the fact that they made a mistake today, for the fact that they had a threat and they actually let kids outside on the playground today at the school that was threatening to be shot.”
During the meeting with Principal Aron, the parents accused Jones Elementary administration of withholding the notification to parents because they said they believed the school was prioritizing student attendance over student safety. The parents suggested school leaders wanted to fill seats to ensure school funding.
Principal Aron said that claim was false.
“We want kids in school. But I’m not going to not tell parents because of attendance. I mean, what’s the point? A dollar compared to the life of a student?” Aron asked rhetorically.
After the meeting ended, Yourbasin.com spoke with Principal Aron about the notification timeline, and why parents and student guardians learned of the threat on Tuesday.
“[Monday night], I notified the police officers and I asked for additional support. I gathered the suspects this morning at the beginning of the school day so that I could exercise due process to find out what that student had to say or students had to say concerning the incident. I also notified the parents this afternoon. I did a call-out after I had an opportunity to practice due process and investigate, and because I did not have a solid person that had admitted to the writing,” Aron said. “I didn’t have an accredited sense of thinking that was going to be a danger to the students until I gathered the evidence… to prove that, yes, this could be a danger to our student population.”
Aron said the handwriting on the note appeared to be that of a child. She also said a group of students found the note.
Jones Elementary has a threat assessment team to ensure student and faculty safety on campus, Aron said. On Tuesday, three law enforcement officers were present on campus. No other incidents were reported.
Midland ISD released a statement on Tuesday, September 27th. It can be read in full below:
“Yesterday, a message that threatened a shooting at Jones Elementary was discovered yesterday evening on the playground. Midland ISD Police immediately began investigating, and the investigation continues. School proceeded as normal today, though officers have been on campus as an added security measure. We encourage parents to speak with their students about the seriousness of making threats or violence of any kind and to contact campus Crime Stoppers with any information.”