Concerned Parents & School District Gather After Student Safety Threat

Colman, S.D. — With all the focus on school safety after the Florida shooting, an incident at a South Dakota school had parents on edge.

Thursday night Colman-Egan school district officials apologized to those parents. The crowd gathered at the school gym for a meeting we weren’t allowed to film. Parents are angry about a recent threat made to students’ safety, and how the school district handled it. Changes could be made because of the fallout.

“Unfortunately we had a quick and hard learning experience,” says Moody County Sheriff Troy Wellman.

Sheriff Wellman is referring to a situation where Colman-Egan students overheard a threat reportedly made last Thursday, one day after the Florida school shooting. The student also reported it to Principal Scott Hemmer.

Hemmer went to Wellman on Friday who started investigating. There was no school Friday or Monday due to unrelated circumstances. An email and automated phone recording went out to the parents around noon on Tuesday which upset some of them.

“We should have the opportunity to not send our kids to school on Tuesday. Where we should have been notified right away Tuesday that there was a threat that they did not think was credible,” says Colman-Egan parent Tina Uhing.

Uhing received a text from her middle schooler Tuesday morning saying there was a threat and cops at the school.

Superintendent Tracey Olson offered a parents meeting that was an open forum between her, Sheriff Wellman, Principal Hemmer and the parents. Emotions ran high, but the main concern is what to do now.

“How do we fix this, so that the parent’s don’t feel like they aren’t getting any information, and that their children aren’t safe? How do we balance that between how do we let parents know what is going on and us being able to do what we need to do,” says Sheriff Wellman.

Changes that can be made included altering policies, adding a school resource officer and parents joining the school committee. Which Uhing took as a positive.

“So after the meeting I feel 100% better. Our school officials talked with emotion. They want to keep our kids safe, and we knew that, but hearing that from them was beneficial for us,” says Uhing.

Sheriff Wellman says the students allegedly involved are no longer attending school on campus. Their education status is unclear. He adds that he does not believe there is an imminent threat for the time being.

Superintendent Olson says the main problem is that her school district has not dealt with this situation before.  She adds that ten other South Dakota schools are dealing with the same issue, and she believes they are also playing catch up when it comes to protocol.

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