Spate of lockdowns in NC's largest school distict
Seven schools in Wake County locked down in last few weeks
In the last few weeks, there has been a spate of Code Red lockdowns for schools in Wake County, North Carolina’s largest school district. The series of lockdowns has left parents, students, and staff on edge.
Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) uses a color-coded lockdown system depending on the threat level circumstances.
In a "code red" lockdown, all interior doors of the facility are locked and students are moved into safe areas.
For a "code yellow" lockdown, all outdoor activities cease, students are moved inside the school, outer doors are locked and movement between buildings is restricted. All other activities inside the school continue during this type of lockdown.
A "code green" is issued to end a lockdown.
Here is the list of the recent lockdowns in WCPSS:
1-31-23 - A Code Yellow was issued for Zebulon Middle School.
2-3-23 - Zebulon Middle School students were released early after a social media threat prompted a Code Red lockdown
2-3-23 - East Millbrook Magnet Middle School also went into a Code Red lockdown over an alleged threat.
"Our campus went into a code red lockdown this morning at approximately 9:27 a.m. due to the rumor of a threat,” East Millbrook Magnet’s school announcement read. “After a thorough investigation by the WCPSS Security and law enforcement, it was determined that there was no credible threat to our school. The Code Red was lifted at 10:55 a.m."
2-3-23 - Broughton High, Oberlin Magnet Middle school, Dillard Drive Middle School, and Dillard Drive Elementary School all issued Code Yellow lockdowns.
The Broughton Code Yellow was issued over "a threat outside of our building." The school lifted the alert just before 11:30 a.m. Oberlin Magnet Middle and the Dillard Drive schools all locked down around 10:45 a.m. because of unspecified "security concerns." Those lockdowns were lifted 30 minutes later.
2-1-23 -Rolesville High School was locked down after a student brought a loaded gun on campus. The student was stopped outside the school around 10:45 a.m. by a staff member and a gun was confiscated. The high school was still sent into lockdown about 30 minutes later. Police didn't arrive to search the school until 12:30 p.m. Students were sent home around 1:15 p.m.
Additionally, there was a false alarm at Cardinal Charter Academy in Wendell that apparently took place on Feb. 1. It was reported by WRAL that a student brought a toy gun to school and that a third grader had texted a parent that a kid a school had a gun.
"There’s a kid with a gun." The first paragraph read, "Hey mom this is not a joke. A kid brought a gun to school and the cops are here. They might shoot. I love you, mom,” the text message read.
According to WRAL, a spokesperson for the agency that represents the academy released this statement:
"We are very proud of the students who brought concerns to our staff regarding a toy gun that was brought to campus today. While no students were ever in any danger, we would like to assure you that we take any behavior of this nature very seriously and will take all appropriate actions. Please remind your children that it is never appropriate to bring anything that resembles a weapon to school and encourage them to always bring any concerns to a trusted adult. Thank you for your continued support."
Following the multiple lockdowns this past week, WCPSS Board of Education Chair Lindsey Mahaffey and Superintendent Catty Moore issued a lengthy statement to parents.
In the statement, Mahaffey and Moore open their statement by talking about the financial cost of lockdowns and that these situations “simply cannot continue.”
“When the actions of a few disrupt the safety and well-being of our entire community, it comes at quite a cost,” the pair wrote.
“This week several schools were in lockdown, we had to summon law enforcement numerous times, and two schools were forced to dismiss early. Such incidents disrupt learning, create undue stress for families, burden emergency responders and law enforcement and bring additional costs to our taxpayers,” wrote Mahaffey and Moore. “If we want to keep our community healthy and thriving, this simply cannot continue.”
The letter goes on to say the district is working with law enforcement to get a handle on the situation and outlined what to expect if a lockdown is issued for a school.
Relevant state statutes that may apply to some of the lockdown situations involving threats made to schools include § 14-277.6. Communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property and § 14-277.5. Making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property.
Mahaffey and Moore also included a list of ways parents can support the district when it comes to threats and lockdowns:
Remind young people that bringing a weapon to school regardless of intent or making a threat against a school regardless of whether or not it’s a hoax will result in dire consequences. Not only suspension, but prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.
Talk to your students about why such acts are criminal, and how committing them has the potential to destroy their lives.
Secure your firearms. Always keep your guns locked in a gun safe that cannot be easily broken into or taken away.
We ask private citizens, businesses, community organizations and communities of faith to seek ways to support local schools.
We implore lawmakers to continue to collaborate around bolstering safety in our schools and communities.
Report information about situations that cause concern at schools so that we can respond quickly and appropriately to protect their safety. Students, parents and citizens can report safety concerns to our anonymous tip line, (919) 856-1911.
Mahaffey indicated to the media that the district has just recently conducted a series of inspections of all school buildings to see if they are secure or if there need to be improvements made.
More To The Story
Last fall, there were at least two lockdown situations in WCPSS; East Wake High School in October and Fuquay-Varina Middle School in December.
A student at East Wake High School was eventually taken into custody after the school went from a Code yellow to a Code red lockdown situation.
WRAL reported that the outlet had received videoes showing students fighting, broken glass inside the school, students slamming a display case which broke the glass, and students “could be heard shouting profanities.”
Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker told WRAL that school resource officers had broken up a fight, one student had minor injuries but went home with a parent. He also said another student had a BB gun in their possession which will result in disciplinary action and a juvenile petition would be filed.
The incident at Fuquay Varina Middle School involved a student bringing a loaded firearm to school and firing it out a window. The assistant principal was able to take the gun away from the student and unload the weapon.
The initial lockdown message issued by Fuquay Varina Middle at 9:25 a.m. gave brief details to parents.
First, all students are safe. Fuquay-Varina Middle is under Code Red lockdown due to a weapon found in a classroom,” the 9:24 a.m. message stated in part. “We have identified the student and confiscated the weapon. The student discharged the weapon at a window. No one was injured. Due to the situation, we will be dismissing early.”
The school issued a more detailed message several hours later at 11:34 a.m. followed by an update from the Wake County Sheriff’s Office at 12:14 p.m.
A juvenile petition has been filed for the 12-year-old who had the gun and 39-year-old Willow Spring resident Seth Lanterman-Schneider has been charged with a misdemeanor related to violating state statutes for the storage of firearms to protect minors.
The incidence of guns on WCPSS properties pales in comparison to that of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS). During the 2021-22 school year, WBT’s Brett Jensen tracked thirty guns confiscated from students in the CMS district.
Given the rash of threats to schools and firearms showing up on K-12 property in various districts, lawmakers at the General Assembly may be taking a closer look at statutes involving firearms, threats made to an educational property, and other school security issues.
UPDATE: The school one of my children attends has received threats. Read the letter our family and others received on Feb. 6.
More to the Story by A.P. Dillon is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.