Evergreen Middle School in Cottonwood experience a lockdown Thursday afternoon after a student reported a man tried to kidnap her at knife point, however school officials are disputing the claim.
An 11-year-old sixth grade student was taking a makeup test outside around 2:30 p.m. when she said a man approached her and ordered her to get into his car at knife point, family friend and Evergreen parent Natasha Harrington said. Harrington’s daughter is friends with the girl and she went over to her house after school to see if she was ok. While there she heard the report that was told by the girl to a Tehama County Sheriff Deputy.
The girl said she managed to escape from the man and ran to a classroom stating what had happened, which is when the lockdown begun.
Tehama County Sheriff Sgt. Rod Daugherty said they were called after the incident happened and after the school did their own investigation.
“There were other kids in the area of where the girl reported the incident occurred and not one other kid saw it happen,” Daugherty said. “The story didn’t quite seem to match.”
Evergreen Union School District Superintendent Brad Mendenhall said everything else that was happening around the area of the girl were normal situations, like staff walking to their cars and parents waiting for school to end in the parking lot.
"It's not that the girl is lying...but I don't think there is much credibility to the girl's statement," he said.
Mendenhall also said that the girl did not originally report there was a knife involved.
Regardless of if the story is true or not the school did not notify parents of the lockdown until after it had taken place, Harrington said. The only notification they received was an email from the school as well as a notification they placed on the school website.
“My daughter came in the door crying. My daughter was hysterical,” Harrington said of her own daughter, who is friends with the girl that made the report.
Harrington immediately called the school to find out why she wasn’t notified there was a lock down, she said.
“Evergreen wouldn’t tell me anything. I was blown off by them,” she said. “They told me ‘just give your daughter a hug and everything will be fine.’”
The school released the following message on their website regarding the incident:
Thursday, March 7, 2013 at approximately 2:40 pm, Evergreen Middle School went into a Lockdown due to a report of a suspicious person on campus. After a search of the entire campus and surrounding areas as well as interviews with other students and staff that were in the same areas of the reported incident, nothing was found to support the claim. The Lockdown was cleared at approximately 3:05 pm and activities resumed as normal. As an added precaution, Tehama County Sheriff’s Department was notified and report filed. - Supt Mendenhall
“I know there are a lot of upset parents. The school is just being really secretive about the whole thing,” Harrington said. “The world is crazy today. I want better communication with the school. If there is an incident I want to know right away.”
Mendenhall noted that school officials first have to assess the situation before they notify parents and that the safety of their students is their biggest concern. However, in the future they will try to alert parents sooner of such a situation, but by doing so they may not have as much information to include as to why there is a lockdown occurring, Mendenhall said.
"Everybody is really alert because of everything that has happened with schools this year," he said. "If anything unnormal happens, we go into lockdown."
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