U.S. Grant High School students will be under lockdown for the fourth consecutive day today, a stretch of time national experts say is unusually long. The school has been locked down since Tuesday, following Monday's arrest of freshman Hodauri Latifu McCoy Jr., 14, on a felony complaint of carrying a firearm in a school. No one was hurt, but McCoy is accused of pointing a loaded gun at one student and threatening others, according to a police report. In March, another high school in the city was locked down for one additional day after an incident that sent a 15-year-old to the hospital. The student was stabbed at Capitol Hill High School with a penknife. Both schools are in southwest Oklahoma City. Peter Blauvelt, president of the nonprofit National Alliance for Safe Schools, said he has not heard of a school lockdown lasting so long. "A lockdown should only last until the threat is abated. It seems to me that the threat has been relieved: The individual has been arrested, the gun is out of the school, the kid is out of the school,” Blauvelt said. "I'm assuming that there's some extenuating circumstances that you and I don't know.” Peter Pochowski, the leader of another nonprofit school safety organization, said a multiday lockdown is unusual but not unheard of. "Until they complete this investigation, run down every possible lead, I think they're taking reasonable and prudent steps to make sure the school is safe,” said Pochowski, executive director of the National Association of School Safety and Law Enforcement Officers.
More information wantedBut both men said they can't see the need for the long lockdown based on the information released so far by district and police officials. Pochowski said most of the extended lockdowns he has heard of are because of unresolved issues involving gangs or other rivalries. Capt. Brian Jennings, commander of Oklahoma City Police Department's school resource unit, said earlier this week police don't think Monday's incident was gang-related. District spokeswoman Tierney Cook has said Superintendent Karl Springer wants the more stringent procedures in place until further notice to show the district's commitment to keeping students safe. Blauvelt said students need to know more than that. "I think the schools have got to be clear with kids why we're still in this lockdown, because I think for students not to understand why we are doing this, then they become very suspicious and then it becomes a game. "If they don't believe this is a serious event, then they're going to take it as a game and they'll find ways to defeat it. ... I think you're due an explanation.”
Online at NewsOK.com:•Read Karl Springer's letter posted Thursday about the metal detector inspections. •Follow links to the Web sites of national school safety organizations. •Plus, read our Education Station blog for the latest education-related news.