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Questions raised about transparency after hold-and-secure at N.S. high school – Halifax

Questions are being raised about transparency following a hold-and-secure placed at a Halifax-area high school last month.

Students at Charles P. Allen High School in the Halifax suburb of Bedford, where a much-publicized stabbing happened in March, were shocked to see armed Halifax Regional Police officers entering the school on Sept. 26.

Grade 12 student Logan Chisholm was in class that day when he heard a commotion.

“We look out the window, there’s like, cops with AR’s coming in, and everyone starts freaking out,” he said.

Fellow student Tucker Wheeler said the “frightening” incident was announced as a “drill” over the PA system, but he questions that wording.

“I mean, you can say it’s a drill, but the second you see police officers and stuff, its like, man this is kind of scary,” he said.

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“How much of a drill is it really if you see cops coming in?” added Chisholm.

The students said a lack of information about what actually happened fuelled miscommunication and “wild stories.”

According to the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, which described the incident as a hold-and-secure, police were investigating a tip they received from Crime Stoppers.

Spokesperson Lindsey Bunin said it lasted about 13 minutes and there was no threat. While HRCE normally posts information on school lockdowns on social media, they didn’t this time — instead, they emailed parents after.

“In this case, things happened very quickly, the school had the situation very quickly under control, and there wasn’t a lot of time within to get that on social media,” said Bunin.

But Stacey Rudderham, co-chair of Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education, said there needs to be more transparency about serious incidents at schools.

“That situation for me — having armed police come into the school — it’s kind of a big deal,” she said, adding that parents are concerned about a lack of information regarding the incident.

“They’re feeling like there’s just really almost an avoidance of accountability by not talking about what’s going on in schools.”

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The union representing teachers in Nova Scotia also said communication needs to be improved.

“Communication builds trust both with parents and with teachers as well,” said Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Ryan Lutes. “And it ensures that everyone has the right, factual information, and aren’t kind of jumping to conclusions about something that may or may not have happened.”

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