ECISD issues apology after Elementary Schools placed on secure hold

Published: Oct. 26, 2023 at 6:08 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - On Tuesday, all Elementary Schools in ECISD were placed in a Secure Hold.

This was a precaution after ECISD leaders learned of a threat to their campuses.

The hold was met with confusion and many parents took to social media to explain their discontent with the district.

On Thursday, ECISD released a statement on Facebook, further explaining the situation and apologizing to parents.

You can read that statement below:

Our team spent a large part of yesterday reviewing all that occurred on Tuesday – the elementary school threat and the unrelated lockdown at Sam Houston Elementary at the end of the day. We have also talked to a number of parents and understand their concerns, as well as those concerns shared online, too. Last night, we sent a letter to all elementary school parents with a clearer explanation of the events, and we want to take just a couple of minutes to provide that same information here.

Tuesday at approximately 8:45 a.m., about an hour after school started, ECISD police were notified of a threat targeting elementary schools that was phoned into the FBI sometime overnight. Our officers immediately began working with other law enforcement agencies, primarily the FBI and Department of Public Safety, to locate the person who made the call. The first step in the response was to put all elementary schools into a Secure, meaning all students and staff are inside and visitors are restricted. ECISD officers were placed either on each campus or in patrol around each school. Other agencies helped with those school patrols, too.

The Secure was to go into effect around 9:30 but we now know those instructions were not clearly communicated to our principals and some schools did not fully implement that protocol. We have apologized to our principals for placing them in that position. The Secure was released an hour later when a person of interest was found and interviewed. At that time law enforcement determined the person named in the original message to the FBI was not the person responsible for making the call, and felt the threat was not credible and the situation was safe to release the Secure. They began to look for other leads and continued the investigation.

While we were limited in the amount of information we could release at the time, we realize not updating our elementary school parents at that point was a mistake and we are sorry.

The lack of information created confusion and worry for parents. We will make changes to the way we handle and report information related to Secure situations, which we typically considered precautionary responses, not emergencies. We understand Tuesday’s circumstances were very different from most that we face, and we did not respond well enough.

It is our hope that the communication surrounding this event does not undermine your confidence in ECISD’s safety procedures or emergency response. ECISD and local law enforcement have created procedures to work together in situations like this, and those plans have proven over time to be effective in keeping our schools and our community safe.

In fact, those emergency procedures were put into effect just before the end of school on Tuesday with a lockdown at Sam Houston Elementary. That incident was unrelated to the earlier threat. A lockdown is an emergency, and law enforcement officers from multiple agencies responded and helped resolve the situation quickly and safely.

We are thankful for their support and yours.

ECISD Facebook page