Stoughton School District investigating muffed ALICE lockdown

The Stoughton School District has launched an investigation into what went wrong during Monday morning’s ALICE lockdown.

School district officials said Monday that the school’s ALICE protocol — which stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate” — was activated when Stoughton Police told them about an armed person that may have been near the school. Police said the person had been detained away from school grounds. The district later said a “hold in place” protocol should have been used instead.

Molly Shea, who is the school’s Community Information and Resource Coordinator, issued the following statement to News 3 Now Tuesday evening:

“We’ve most recently issued an apology to our school community. We’ve begun an investigation to look into all details of the response and make adjustments for the future. We have heard first-hand from students and staff about how they felt in the moments of yesterday’s incident. Our first focus is student and staff wellbeing, which includes listening and responding to your needs. Staff and students can also expect a continued and coordinated response by the high school and district.”

Speaking at a school board meeting Monday night, Stoughton High School principal Mike Kruse said he reacted to the situation based on the information he had at the time. Still, he admitted that the incorrect protocol was used for the situation, and said he understood parents and students were worried.

Michael Drifke, who is a Freshman at Stoughton High school, says he was frustrated by what he called a lack of communication from school leadership during yesterday’s ALICE lockdown.

“I wasn’t especially scared for my own life, I was just concerned as to why there is no communication as to where he is and what we are supposed to do,” says Drifke. “We need to learn from this…be better, fix the communication issues.”

The district says there is no override to stop the ALICE system once it is activated. School officials say Kruse got on the PA system as soon as he could to try to clarify the situation, but some students and staff had already fled the building in an attempt to find a safe place to hide.

RELATED: Stoughton High School placed on lockdown, ALICE protocol incorrectly used

“Whatever choice a staff member made at the time and the students made at that time is the right choice,” Kruse said Monday night.

School board member Mia Croyle spoke in support of Kruse at Monday night’s meeting.

“I think it’s important to remember that the school’s not the bad guy in this situation,” Croyle said during the meeting. “The entity that put children at risk was a criminal in the community with a gun, not our schools. Our schools are doing the very best they can every day to keep our children safe and any individual teacher who made a decision… yes, that they could with the information they had.”

Kruse says he can only recall one time the school did ALICE training, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, student representatives on the school board said they would like to see more drills to make sure everyone — students and staff included — knows what to do in the future.

“I just think some like actual maybe more intense drills, because we’ve never had anything like that,” Hailey S., the student school board representative, said Monday night. “I know COVID is to blame, but also a lot of people didn’t know what to do.”