Update: New Safety Measures at Burwell Public Schools
By Sara Kirkley, Weekend Anchor / Reporter - email
Changes to school policy may be in order after a so-called hit list that named Burwell Public School staff and students was reported Thursday afternoon.
The school was closed Tuesday as staff worked on new safety measures.
"I think you would be crazy not to be concerned," said Felicia Patrick, a Burwell parent.
She kept her kids home from school Friday and Monday, and voiced her concerns at a heated board meeting Monday night. More than 70 people attended the meeting, which had to be moved to the school's commons because of the crowd. The public comment portion of the meeting lasted more than two hours.
"It was painful, but we had to hear what they had to say," said Burwell Superintendent Dan Bird. "We've got to improve the communication."
One mother told the board she was upset that her son was not notified he was on the list until after he left school Thursday.
Some parents said they didn't find out about the threat until Sunday.
School officials said they relied on law enforcement to contact those on the list. They also said they were still figuring out a messaging system, which cut off the call and text message letting
people know of the situation over the weekend.
"I did get more answers," said Patrick. "I feel very comfortable sending them to school Wednesday."
That's when new rules take effect. Campus will be closed, bags searched and parking will be limited to the Junior/Senior High lot. An assembly will also be held to explain the situation to students.
Parents are also invited.
Still, parents and school administrators agree policy needs to change.
Junior/Senior High Principal Dave Owen said the school has a procedure for an intruder in the building, but not a "hit list."
"Will we? Yes, now," he said.
"There's going to be quite a few changes being made," said Bird.
He said that discussion started Tuesday and will eventually be taken to the board.
Patrick hopes parents will be named to the school's safety committee and a solid plan of action will be finalized.
"They need to make sure that just because we're small and we're such a tight knit group that you can't take that for granted," she said. "Something could happen and you need to have something in place to be ready for it."
School officials said law enforcement have been at the school since Thursday. It's unknown how long they can keep that up with only a handful of officers between Burwell Police and the Garfield County Sheriff's Office.
The Nebraska State Patrol provided some relief Tuesday, taking over the investigation because of a lack of manpower in Burwell.
Law enforcement continue to search for a suspect in the case. Officials said the list contained names of school staff and students, but didn't say what harm, if any, could befall those named.
For Burwell Public School's message to parents, click here.