TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Parents of Topeka West students told 13 News Wednesday they were upset they weren't notified about a murder-for-hire plot involving a high school student until after the news was made public.
One Topeka West mom said she and several other parents were texting all morning, surprised they didn't receive notification Tuesday night that one of their kids' classmates was arrested for allegedly planning the murders of four people at the school.
Students were notified during their third period classes Wednesday, around the time District Attorney Chad Taylor announced the arrest in a news conference. Parents then received this e-mail from principal Jeanne Carton at 11:34 a.m.:
"At the end of third hour today, the following email was read to all Topeka West High School students by their teachers. We wanted all of you to be informed as well:
We were informed during the winter break of an alleged threat at Topeka West High School. Law enforcement has investigated and taken appropriate actions to ensure the safety of students and staff at Topeka West.
If you are approached by the media, please refer them to District Attorney Chad Taylor's office."
One mom said it seemed to her the administration was "blind-sided" by the public announcement Wednesday morning.
USD 501 spokesperson, Ron Harbaugh, said he found out about the news conference from the media. He said Principal Carton found out from another source, not the district attorney's office.
Another parent wrote, "As a parent, I was unnerved to see how close our school and our town came to being added to the list of all the prior school tragedies, including one just yesterday (Tuesday 1/15) in New Mexico. It can happen here and it came very close to happening here.
"I think Topeka West has the best security that 501 and the TPD know how to offer with an open campus. From what I understand, most of the doors to the buildings are locked during class hours; it is the pass times that are the most problematic, just the same at any school.
"I am very, very thankful to the Topeka Police Department and whomever it was that brought this situation to their attention. I am praying for the young man and his family and offering thanks for the safety of our students."