Charlotte school day disrupted by threats

Photo by Chea Waters Evans
Vermont State Police cruisers sit outside Charlotte Central School Monday morning.

Charlotte Central School parents got a call this week from Lead Principal Stephanie Sumner on the school’s phone alert system, informing them that lockout steps were taken after a “possible threat to one of our staff members.”

Sumner’s call came at 12:18 p.m., though the lockout began at 8:30 that morning.

Vermont State Police reported that Bruce Cobb, 57, of Lincoln had allegedly threatened a school staff member, who reported the incident to school officials, who then initiated the school’s safety protocols.

“No threat was made toward the school nor any of the students at the school,” police said in a press release. Cobb was charged with criminal threatening and issued a citation to appear in court today.

Sumner said school officials considered it a “soft lockdown” because of the nature of the incident, and said she, along with administrators Jen Roth and Cassandra Townsend, went “pretty quickly door-to-door and let teachers know.”

In a lockout, which is sometimes referred to as a lockdown, teachers lock classroom doors but continue with regular classroom activity. Outer doors of the school are secured and locked, and strangers are not let into the building.

The benefits of small-town life were apparent during the lockout, as some parents were allowed in to pick up students. “Luckily, we live in a small community, and if we know it’s a parent, we said, ‘Go ahead and let them in,’” Sumner said.

On the advice of state police, the school administration is now revising its emergency procedures to reconcile them with federal crisis management protocols, and clear up any confusion between the terms “lockout” and “lockdown.”

The school resumed regular activities Monday after recess, and students and staff were back in their regular routines Tuesday morning, school officials said.

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