Dr. Jeff Perry, school superintendent for Hamblen County schools, said Thursday the school system is revising its policies in order to notify parents earlier when there are lockdowns on school campuses.
“We’re actually revising that right now,” Perry said.
The revision comes a day after Morristown-Hamblen High School East was placed on a soft lockdown around 12:30 p.m. due to a report of a student having a gun on campus. By 2 p.m., the lockdown was lifted and school officials and the Morristown Police Department said they had found no evidence of a gun on the premises.
Social media posts made by parents throughout the day complained about not getting notification of the lockdown immediately.
Perry said he understands the concerns and the school system will be doing more in the future regarding the notifications.
“We will notify the parents as soon as we have factual information,” he said.
He said the new policy will be that a text message will be sent out alerting parents there is a lockdown with a brief description of why there is a lockdown. That will be followed up with a second text message later with more details, once school officials know those details, he said.
But, he warned the notifications may not be immediate.
“I know parents want information right away, but sometimes it takes time to get factual information,” he said.
Perry said in emergency situations, the first job for school officials is to make sure students are safe. Those who have access to the notification system are also the ones who may be heavily involved in making sure children are safe and gathering information, he said.
During Wednesday’s incident, Perry said school officials and the Morristown Police Department interviewed several students and reviewed several video tapes of the incident and found no presence of a firearm. He said a student had reported another student had a gun, which led to the immediate investigation and the lockdown.
The student who allegedly had the gun was searched, multiple students who were sitting with the accused student were also searched.
“There was never a gun found,” Perry said. “There were no drugs found. There was never a situation where kids were unsafe.”
Perry said when incidents like this appear where there could be false accusations, students who make the accusations will face disciplinary measures. He said that will be through the school system and the legal system.
“We will charge them,” he said.
However, Perry also encouraged anyone who hears or sees something that may be inappropriate to report it to teachers or to law enforcement. He did say the reports should include as much factual information as possible.
Morristown Police Department officials confirmed a 15-year-old boy was charged with filing of a false police report.
No other arrests were made.