Parents concerned over lack of communication from Buffalo Public Schools during Thursday's gun scare

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 18:22:41-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A student reported seeing a classmate with a gun at the Charles R. Drew Science Magnet School in Buffalo Thursday. It led to an hours long lock down with panicked parents rushing to the school doors.

Police said they found a BB gun and a 14-year-old has been charged.

Many parents said they received no information from the Buffalo Public School District regarding the lock down.

"I think they that was the most aggravating part the entire ordeal for us. If anyone had spoken to us and told us this is what's happening. This is what we're doing. Right now you're children are safe, it would have helped us to wait a little more patiently," Renita Schadwick, a grandparent of a student in the building during the lock down, said.

7 Eyewitness News reporter Olivia Proia asked the district to explain its protocol in this situation. Elena Cala, a special assistant to the superintendent for public relations, said in a text, "Because we follow BPD protocol, this would be a conversation with them."

Buffalo Police said they handle a report of a gun in a school as if it were an active shooter situation, but communication with parents is handled by the district.

In the district's Emergency Response to Critical Situations Protocol, it says, "Ms. Cala and the appropriate ASL will work with the principal and/pr assistant principal to discuss and plan the communication response with parents and the school community."

7 Eyewitness News reporter Olivia Proia called Cala to ask for an explanation. Cala did not answer.

When sent shot a screenshot of the protocol, Cala responded saying in part, "The parents had direct communication that there was a lock down."

She said once the gun was located and determined to be a BB gun, parents were informed as well.

Yet parents said the opposite, claiming the lack of communication was terrifying.

"What was it like for me? I was terrorized in my heart. I was just terrorized. Because I couldn't imagine what the children were going through," Schadwick said.

7 Eyewitness News reporter Olivia Proia asked Cala for an interview to explain exactly what the district did to communicate with parents. She again deferred to police.

BPS parent Edward Speidel said this isn't the first time this has happened.

"Three years ago at daVinci, which my daughter graduated from, [they] had a threat. The only way parents found out there was because kids had their phones and called their parents," Speidel said.

7 Eyewitness News reporter Olivia Proia brought parents' concerns to Board of Education members. Larry Scott, the only board member to respond, said 7 Eyewitness News reporter Olivia Proia should reach out to police or the city for a response.

Scott also said in the text message, "Separately, I will add that matters such as this occur in our suburban districts as well. I know firsthand."

"I don't care what happens in other districts. That has no bearing on the argument at all. He's trying to deflect. All they try to do is deflect. In this case, I feel that they're incompetent," Speidel said.

So do parents feel their kids are safe despite what they said is a lack of communication on the district's behalf?

"I feel like they're being dishonest. I feel like maybe my kids aren't as safe as they should be," Speidel said.

Some said they do feel their kids are safe thanks to the Buffalo Police Department.

"The police officers had some very kind and calming words for us when I asked them if they could tell us anything that would give us peace. I really want to commend them on a job well done and tell them thank you," Schadwick said.