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Parents upset over handling of Gobles school lockdown
GOBLES, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The day after a manhunt in Van Buren County caused a lockdown of two school districts, parents are wondering if their kids were safe.
For several hours, deputies were searching in and around Bloomingdale for 32-year-old Michael Warner.
He ran from police after a traffic stop, and broke into a home to steal an ATV and guns before he was finally caught hiding out in a pole barn.
Bloomngdale and Gobles schools were on lockdown during that time.
Gobles schools were on lockdown for several hours yesterday but parents we talked to there say they never knew that, and never had a chance to pick their students up.
Parent of a sixth grader, Jacqueline Krieger says she didn't know all day her child's school was in lockdown Thursday because of a police manhunt going on nearby.
Most parents don't have access to television to hear about it on the news when they're working, she said. And if you don't get a phone call from your child how else are you supposed to know?
She found out all the Gobles schools were on lockdown just before dismissal and rushed there to take her daughter home.
I got inside the doors and there's nobody there, just a big old mass of parents and adults, kids walking around, a bunch of chaos, Krieger said.
And it's the chaos there, as deputies were looking for fugitive Michael Warner just a few miles away, that has parents concerned.
The complaint we heard most was that no one called parents.
I had some complaints, another parent, Matt Verburg told Newschannel 3. It shouldn't have to be their kids calling them. Maybe the school should have handled it better.
Currently, we do not have a school notification or school messenger software in place to notify parents when something is going on immediately, said Gobles Superintendent Jeff Rehlander.
We asked Rehlander about the parents complaints, and he said the district doesn't have that call system but is trying to find the money for one.
He says they locked the doors, canceled buses home, and did the best they could in a changing situation.
You're put in a situation where you have to asses and you have to have as the number one criteria safety for students, Rehlander said.
But parents we talked to say there needs to be changes before the next emergency comes.
The Superintendent also tells Newschannel 3 they are in the middle of a bond initiative and security is a big part of that.
It will include an auto call system, a buzzer system at the entrance, and surveillance cameras.
Parents say they will be at the school board meeting Monday to talk about their concerns about what happened Thursday.