JANESVILLE, Wis. - School was back in session Tuesday for the first time since a nationwide manhunt for a wanted Janesville man started.
All 22 Janesville district schools went into soft lockdown April 6 as investigators searched for Joseph Jakubowski, suspected of stealing weapons and writing a 161-page manifesto to President Donald Trump. The superintendent decided to cancel school April 7, giving students and staff an extra day off before spring break.
“I kind of feel like maybe they went over and above, but that’s good because it’s better to have our kids safe than have something happen,” said Julie Kaveggia, whose daughter is a sophomore at Craig High School.
District officials said they tried to keep parents as informed as they could by sending out information once they received it from police.
“As a parent, I really felt my kids were safe. I felt communication was fantastic. I got three emails, phone calls,” said Michelle Haworth, who serves on the school board and is a parent of three children in the district.
While students were on spring break, the district administrators met several times to discuss the decision to lockdown and cancel school, and those discussions are continuing.
“We’re not done yet,” Superintendent Karen Schulte said. “Now we need to think about, ‘Are there other ways we can look at this?’”
The administration was also discussing how to operate once students returned from spring break if Jakubowski had not been caught, but officials arrested him Friday.
Schulte said this situation is the only time she can remember having a district-wide lockdown.
“I think one of the key things is, if and when we have to do an all-district lockdown, should it look differently? Are there other things we want to consider?” she said. “Our students, for the most part, did not move from class to class. They could have, but they didn’t in this situation. Would we want to do that differently?”
She said the administration planned to meet with the principals of every school Thursday to share information and talk about updating procedures.
“Everything we do is a learning experience and, in particular, about safety for our students and our staff,” Schulte said. “So that’s partly why we debrief. We talk through things and look at how we can improve our practice.”
Schulte also said the experience showed what great communication the district already had established with the Janesville Police Department.
“Those phone calls directly from (the police chief) giving me updates were so helpful, and I wouldn’t want to do that any other way,” she said.
Many parents said they appreciated how well the situation was handled.
“We were kept up to date at each step of the way and notified as to what the problem was,” Kaveggia said. “So I think they really worked well together.”
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