Cops: Addison student 'fabricated' school intruder story
Police say a student at Indian Trail Junior High School in Addison has admitted she lied about being restrained by an intruder — a report that prompted authorities to lock down the building for three hours Friday as worried parents gathered outside.
Addison Police Director Bill Hayden and Elementary District 4 Superintendent John Langton wouldn't comment at a news conference Monday about whether the girl was actually restrained but said it was clear there was no intruder.
"During the course of the investigation, the student admitted fabricating the story," Hayden said. "At no time was the security at Indian Trail Junior High School breached."
A mutual-aid network of law enforcement responded at 9:44 a.m. Friday for a report of a girl restrained in a restroom by an intruder. Roughly 1,800 students were locked inside darkened classrooms while authorities searched the school grounds and surrounding areas.
Hayden said the guardians of the student who made the false report were "extremely cooperative," and authorities knew definitively by Friday night there had been no intruder.
"They were a big part of this situation, helping resolve it and get to the truth," Hayden said of the guardians. "They do deserve credit. They helped us and they're very sorry this happened."
Langton wouldn't comment on any disciplinary action the student might face, but said district policy generally outlines options ranging from reprimands to expulsion.
Police and school officials said the episode gave them the opportunity to test their collaborative response protocols in emergency situations. They said parents received a phone alert within 90 minutes of the first report, and officials kept them up to speed with an additional phone message and online updates, and by meeting face-to-face with a large group gathered at the school.
The district and police department each plan to conduct internal reviews of their response.
So far, "we're very pleased with how everything worked out," Langton said. "The only better outcome would have been it not happening at all."
Hayden said Monday's news conference aimed to "provide a measure of security to the community" in that school safety is a top priority.
"We acted swiftly and appropriately considering the information that we had at the time," Hayden said. "Basically, this whole situation validated our training, all our protocols, all our procedures, everything we have done together with the school district. So it was a positive outcome to an unfortunate circumstance."
Officials also sought to discourage adults and students from spreading unconfirmed information and rumors during possible emergencies.
"That could be by word-of-mouth, email, texting, social media — any type of that activity certainly leads to an interruption of the investigation," Langton said.
Langton said school faculty and staff will have further discussions with students about the importance of telling the truth, as well as emergency protocols, when they return to class after Monday's Columbus Day break.
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