Montgomery County Public School officials Wednesday night acknowledged shortcomings in safety protocols and emergency communications following the Jan. 21 shooting at Magruder High School, parents said.
Magruder High School parents met for two hours with the officials.
Parents said school officials apologized that lockdown procedures were not completely followed and communications with families were lacking after a student shot another in a school bathroom.
“They had told us initially that the lockdown was followed, particularly in the classroom where the shooter was apprehended. We knew that the lockdowns had not been followed. We knew from the students,” said parent Kim Glassman.
“We knew that they had continued testing. We knew that the lights remained on. We knew that students were scattered throughout the room. We knew that they were in front of the windows,” Glassman said.
“The communications were horrific that day, that our kids were held for seven hours and we received four communications,” she said.
The parents told WTOP the school system conceded the extended time of the student lockdown was unnecessary.
But Glassman and other parents said it was a good meeting, and school officials said they learned lessons from the shooting and from the mistakes made during the school’s response.
“I think it was very productive. We’ve been asking for this … for a really long time, so it was important to have it, important for people to ask questions and have them answered and important to me and for us as a community to hear MCPS actually acknowledge missteps,” said parent Cynthia Simonson.
But one parent who asked not to be named said there was little discussion at the meeting in the school auditorium about preventive steps that can be taken to avert shootings in school.
“My concerns are less about whether or not procedures and protocols were followed, but how we’re going to stop guns from getting into our schools,” said a woman who identified herself as a parent of one of the students who was in the classroom where Steven Alston Jr. was apprehended.
Alston, 18, pleaded guilty in November to the attempted first-degree murder of a 15-year-old in the school’s bathroom.
Police and prosecutors have said Alston met with the other boy in a school bathroom to settle a dispute and then shot the boy in the pelvis after first pointing it at his head, before dismantling the ghost gun and returning to a classroom.
Alston’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 22. The maximum sentence he could receive is life in prison.