Jefferson HS parents call for campus policy change after chaotic lockdown response

School officials said they want to improve communication with parents.

There are calls for change after a chaotic scene at Jefferson High School during a lockdown on Tuesday. KSAT's John Paul Barajas explains some families think there is more that can be done.

SAN ANTONIO – Fear, anxiety, and panic at Jefferson High School followed a lockdown on campus due to a threat deemed not credible.

Just one day later, parents are already calling for policy changes.

San Antonio ISD officials said Wednesday that protocols were executed properly, but communication with parents can and will be improved.

“I’m supposed to feel happy at school, be happy with my friends and today was not one of those days. Today my life could have been on the line,” said 17-year-old student Marty Gonzales.

Students inside the school like Gonzales were relieved to hug their families but were still shaken by the lockdown.

Cellphone video shows officers sweeping classrooms -- it’s something both Gonzalez and another student Christopher Corrales call, “a scary situation.”

“This is one of the things that I’m going to have to try and move on from and it’s also going to be one of the things I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” said Corrales.

“They just told us to put our hands up but still, a gun pointed at you, aimed at your face is not right,” said Gonzales.

Students and parents said a phone policy requires students to turn their phones in at the beginning of each class. Students said they need to have access to their phones to communicate with loved ones.

Audrey Cardenas, a mother of an SAISD student, said not being able to get answers or talk to her son only added to the fear and anxiety.

“I couldn’t get ahold of him and if it was an active shooter, what if he was one that got shot and I wouldn’t have known? Like, it’s not okay. It’s not okay to take their phones away, especially with what happened at Robb Elementary. It’s not okay,” said Cardenas.

SAISD Superintendent Jaime Aquino said those policies are on a campus-to-campus basis, adding the decision is made by school staff and parents.

“They wanted to make sure that they, the students, didn’t have phones that interrupted instruction, but we don’t have a policy and every campus can revisit that,” said Aquino.

It’s something district police chief Johnny Reyes Jr. believes should be a topic that’s looked at again.

“It’s an opportunity to have direct communication with what’s going on inside. It’s also communication they may have with their parents that says, ‘Mom I’m okay. Dad, I’m fine,’” said Reyes Jr.

Both the superintendent and district chief said the response and protocols were executed properly.

They added they want to improve communication with parents.

They plan to start sending text alerts, buying bullhorns to better communicate with large crowds, and will send short videos on how parents can better assist them going forward.

“This is not going to be a Uvalde situation. We are going to react and respond appropriately,” said Aquino.

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About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.