Hagwood tells PUSD board about PQES lockdown

Mona Hill
Copy Editor

    Although not listed on the agenda, sheriff Greg Hagwood appeared before the Plumas Unified School District board at Chester Elementary School Tuesday, May 11.

    CES Principal Sally McGowan opened the Reports to the Board portion of the meeting with a discussion of the achievements at Chester Elementary.

    During her remarks, she alluded to the recent incident at Pioneer-Quincy Elementary when the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement personnel responded to reports of an intruder at the campus.

    Following McGowan’s presentation, Superintendent Glenn Harris interrupted proceedings to say Hagwood was present at the board meeting expressly to inform the board about the incident.

    Hagwood told the PUSD board the incident had served as a wake-up call and that he and district personnel were working to make long overdue corrections to procedural deficiencies.

    He said Quincy-area SWAT members, whether on- or off-duty, also responded. There were officers on site within five minutes of receiving the 911 call.

    Responding to a question from board member Jonathan Kusel, Hagwood confirmed there was a delay between the incident and the 911 call being made to dispatch.

    In a follow-up telephone interview, Hagwood said there was a delay of approximately 15 minutes before on-site faculty called dispatch.

    He thought the cause of the delay was probably a lack of clear understanding of policy and procedure, essentially a training issue. He said the district and involved law enforcement were taking the opportunity to evaluate and learn from the incident.

    Hagwood added that in instances of campus safety, he would like to see the 911 system activated immediately while simultaneous action was taken to secure classrooms, students and personnel.

    Discussing the speed at which reports of the incident swept the Quincy community, he said it illustrated a communication dynamic that also needed to be addressed to ensure adequate response.

    In a telephone interview Monday, May 17, Harris confirmed the delay, citing a “lack of automaticity” in school staff’s response to the incident. He said the incident highlighted a need for more comprehensive training.

    Principal Bruce Williams was off-site attending a meeting at the district office. The school secretary drove to the district office and reported to Williams and Harris, who instructed her to call the sheriff’s office and they went to the Quincy Elementary campus.

    Once on site, Williams and another faculty member instituted a lock down and visited each classroom. Harris could not confirm whether or not students understood the incident was not a drill.

    In discussing the speed at which news of the situation made the rounds in the community, Harris said, “We have a lot of work to do with teaching students about appropriate responses.”

    Currently, no suspects have been identified and there are no other witnesses to the incident.

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