Teen released after lockdowns at Middleton High, 2 other schools

The Middleton High School principal blames an app malfunction for the release of a student's name to people outside school staff.
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 1:19 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 9:43 AM CST
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MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Middleton High School student was taken into custody Monday afternoon after reports that he may have a gun spurred a lockdown of the building, as well as two nearby schools, as officers searched the school and the surrounding area to find him.

According to the Middleton Police Dept., a high school resource officer heard from a staff member that the student may have a firearm, spurring the immediate lockdown as authorities began their search. The 16-year-old student, whose name was not released, was located after approximately 45 minutes and taken into custody, the police statement continued.

Dane Co. Juvenile Court Administrator John Bauman confirmed that the teen was never booked into the Juvenile Reception Center and had been released into his mother. Bauman also noted that a disorderly conduct referral was made against him and that a social worker has been assigned to the case.

Middleton Police Capt. Jeremy Geiszler confirmed to NBC15 News that no weapon was found on the student at the time. A separate video message from Middleton Cross Plains School District Superintendent Dr. Dana Monogue indicated no weapon was found on campus either.

The lockdown, which went into effect around 12:30 p.m. was lifted by 2 p.m. and, by that time, students were already seen walking outside the building. Parents like Paul Schroder were looking for information from anywhere and everywhere.

“We were just waiting for information trying to connect with people, and there’s a lot of communication going out there, throughout other students and families,” said Schroder.

The email to families did not indicate what prompted the police response. A separate message to staff, obtained by NBC15 News, stated that student had been on the campus with a gun in his backpack. It added that authorities believe the student was no longer in the building, but they weren’t able to confirm that. The message, which appeared to arrive via text, urged staff members to “please continue to keep students calm.”

In a message from principal Peg Shoemaker, she apologized for using the student’s name in what was supposed to be a confidential message to staff, saying it went out to others beyond MHS employees.

The message was sent using the Remind app, which has been used in the past to send confidential messages quickly to staff only.

“I apologize that confidential information about a student was communicated inadvertently to students and families,” Shoemaker stated. “We will be following up with the family to explain what happened and why it happened as soon as the details related to the software malfunction are made clear.”

Students’ families had received an email from district officials after the lockdowns were in place telling them that the high school, along with Clark Street Community School and Kromrey Middle School, were “under a full lockdown.” Sauk Trail Elementary also activated its ‘soft hold’ safety protocols as a precautionary measure. While the situation occurred at Middleton High, the decision to lock down the other two schools was made because of their proximity, district officials told families. A text exchange from one of the students offered a glimpse of what the students inside Middleton High School experienced and saw.

Full email to families:

Clark Street, Middleton High, Kromrey and Sauk Trail Families,

We are alerting you that as of 12:30 pm today, Middleton High, Clark Street and Kromrey has been placed under a full lockdown. We are working with the Middleton Police Department, who are currently on the scene at Middleton High School.

Since Clark Street and Kromrey are nearby, we are also putting these schools on lockdown. Sauk Trail Elementary is on a soft hold until further notice.

We will notify you as soon as more information becomes available.

Please do not contact the schools directly or arrive on campus to ensure the safety of you and our students.

Please stand by as more information will be provided to you via Infinite campus messenger.

Email from MCPSD officials

Second email to families:

Dear High School Students and Families,

During a safety emergency today, I sent a message to all MHS Staff to assist in locating a student as quickly as possible. In past situations, I have used the Remind app to get urgent messages to all staff members at the same time. My Remind messages should only go to high school staff members. Unfortunately, that is not what happened today and we are looking into why this message went to others beyond MHS Staff.

In order to address the matter as quickly as possible, I shared a student’s name with staff members using Remind. Remind is a confidential way to share “STAFF ONLY” information. I apologize that confidential information about a student was communicated inadvertently to students and families. We will be following up with the family to explain what happened and why it happened as soon as the details related to the software malfunction are made clear.

Thank you for your understanding in a time like this.

Sincerely,

Ms. Peg Shoemaker

MHS Principal

Peg Shoemaker
The lockdown, which went into effect around 12:30 p.m. was lifted by 2 p.m. and, by that time, students were already seen walking outside the building.

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