Safety has been a top priority of Delta County Joint School District #50, even before the recent school shooting in Florida and the report of a student with a gun at Grand Mesa Choice Academy.
The school district is working on a plan to implement increased security entrances by eventually adding security systems, locked doors and potentially school resource officers. School administrators have also worked with local law enforcement on a safety plan that is unique to each individual school.
Late last week, superintendent Caryn Gibson penned a letter to the community. She wrote, "This is a time of intense sorrow and anxiety for all school communities, and we feel it is important to share with you that Delta County Schools do have safety procedures and protocols in place. Please know that our top priority in Delta County School District is student and staff safety. We also have trained staff to care for our children in coping with the grief and shock that come with learning about tragic events like the shootings in Florida.
"As a school district, we have worked closely with local law enforcement to implement safety and security measures to ensure that schools provide a safe learning environment for all children. Our staffs are trained on safety policies and procedures. We are spending time working to ensure all schools are adhering to established safety protocols, enforcing that safety procedures are being followed.
"As the situation in Florida continues to unfold, please know that Delta County School District is ready to support students with concerns or fears while they are at school. If your students are having issues dealing with the Florida situation, please have him/her visit with their school administrator. School administrators have access to trained mental health professionals and resources that can support students through this emotional event."
Gibson followed up with tips for parents to use when discussing the Florida tragedy.
The day after the Florida tragedy, law enforcement responded to the campus of the Technical College of the Rockies after a 15-year-old student was seen with a gun. The 15-year-old male attends Grand Mesa Choice Academy, which is on the TCR campus south of Delta.
Law enforcement from the Delta County Sheriff's Office, Delta Police Department and Colorado State Patrol responded to the 911 call at about 9 a.m.
As law enforcement entered the school the 15-year-old male subject was taken into custody for questioning without incident. No shots were fired and no students or faculty were injured. School resumed shortly after the incident.
After further investigation into the incident, sheriff's investigators learned the following information:
A student attending the Grand Mesa Choice Academy overheard another student state he had a gun. That student did the appropriate thing and notified school administration staff. The school administrator then contacted the sheriff's office to report a student possibly had a gun on campus.
"The Delta County Sheriff's Office and Delta Police Department responded to the campus in the appropriate manner given the information they had," the sheriff's office stated in a follow-up press release.
After conducting in-depth interviews, investigators learned the student did not possess a weapon and the student was released to his parent.
While investigators were at the school, a pistol was discovered in a vehicle in close proximity to this incident. After further investigation, it was determined the pistol was not related to this incident. Investigators are continuing to look into the matter of the pistol located in a vehicle parked on campus.
The press release concludes with this reminder:
"The Delta County Sheriff's Office would like to remind everyone, if you see something tell someone, if you hear something tell someone. In this case law enforcement responded immediately and within a short time determined there was no threat to students, staff or the community."
A collaborative effort between the Delta County Sheriff's Office and municipal law enforcement agencies throughout Delta County has resulted in a proposal for a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund public safety. A PowerPoint presentation titled "Back the Badge" is starting to make the rounds at city/town council meetings, service club luncheons and other events.