A candidate for the Board of Supervisors' Catoctin District seat and the president of the Lucketts Elementary School PTA asked the Loudoun County School Board Tuesday to form a group to create safety threat protocols and build a safety assessment of western Loudoun's small schools following a recent safety scare at Lucketts Elementary.
Lucketts Elementary Principal Carolyn Clement sent an email to the parent community in late September informing them the school had a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputy present because of a threat made against a staff member.
Clement assured parents in the email that the deputy’s presence was out of “an abundance of caution,” but parents expressed outrage at not having been notified when the threat was reported on Aug. 20.
Last week, Clement emailed parents again to say the staff member who received the threat was “away” from the school. LCSO officials said there have been no safety incidents, and the person charged with making the threats was found not guilty in court last week.
School staff met with parents at an Oct. 3 PTA meeting, and LCPS Superintendent Eric Williams sent out a letter to the school community to address parent concerns and apologizing "for the missteps that have been made during our handling of this matter during the last two months.”
Forest Hayes, a 2019 Catoctin District candidate, and Lucketts Elementary PTA President Amy Tribie said in a letter to Williams that the incident made parents aware that LCPS is “not fully prepared to handle a safety emergency in an efficient and effective manner.”
The two have called on LCPS to create a joint working group of parents, community leaders and senior LCPS staff to create safety protocols and assess small schools. They also called for the modernization of all four of the Catoctin District's small schools.
“We dodged a bullet at Lucketts Elementary, figuratively, in that we had a scare and no one got hurt. That has to be a wake-up call,” Hayes told the Times-Mirror.
Tribie also read portions of a Lucketts PTA Advocacy Resolution to the School Board during public comment at Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution advocates for a full-time student resource officer to be assigned to Lucketts and all elementary schools, for LCPS to reevaluate and modernize security procedures and ensure equity across the county. The PTA president also pressed for a full investigation into “suppression of vital school safety information from teachers, parents and the Lucketts Community Center run by [Loudoun County Parks and Recreation].”
Tribie said a “Be On the Look Out” alert on the individual who reportedly made the threat was not shared with anyone outside of school staff, including school volunteers or the employees of the community center that falls within the protective order placed against the person who made the threat. Additionally, teachers did not have emergency kits ready for the first day of school.
The conversation on safety improvements, what modernizing the schools would look like, the cost involved and a timetable is best held in partnership with the school community, Hayes said. Although LCPS has been working toward installing more security vestibules and other safety measures in schools, Hayes said it’s not happening fast enough for the smaller, older schools.
Hayes said he was concerned that no School Board members mentioned Lucketts Elementary in their remarks at the end of Tuesday’s meeting.
“There has to be a sense of urgency,” he said.