Whitehall school steps up security in wake of unwanted advance report

2012-10-31T01:45:00Z Whitehall school steps up security in wake of unwanted advance reportBy Piper Haugan of The Montana Standard Montana Standard
October 31, 2012 1:45 am  • 

In light of an alleged incident involving a man making advances toward a 6-year-old child on school grounds, Whitehall school and law enforcement have plans to beef up security.

The district will have more teachers monitoring the playground during recess and before and after school hours, and they will begin enforcing a stricter visitor policy, according to Britt McLean, vice principal of Whitehall’s high school. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department will step up its coverage of the area, especially on Halloween, Deputy Michael Wharton said Tuesday.

McLean released a statement regarding the alleged incident.

According to McLean, a man approached a 6-year-old child Friday after school near the bus drop-off area of the school grounds. The man allegedly told the child he wanted to get to know him better, and that he had talked to the child’s father, who said it was OK. The child’s father died three years ago. The boy got on the bus and told his parents when he got home.

McLean said two teachers as well as numerous paraprofessionals were outside monitoring the students at the time. None of the adults saw the man or the incident.

The man was described as skinny, in his 40s or 50s, wearing a black baseball cap with white lettering, a black jacket with white lettering and baggy black pants. The man was reported to have a short growth of white whiskers or a mustache. The space between his eyes was described as “flat.”

McLean said the school district is working to tighten security for the children. He said personnel discussed several changes at a staff meeting Tuesday morning, including increasing the number of teachers on the playground during recesses and the pick-up and drop-off periods of the day.

Wharton said there will be a “slight up-step” in the number of patrols in Whitehall, especially over Halloween. He said more patrols are planned around the hours when children are going to and coming from school.

Some parents are hoping to organize a group of parents who will patrol the school area during recess and other times around the school day.

Annissa Hastie, a Whitehall parent, said she and other parents are disappointed with the school “not taking (the issue) seriously or with as much attention as they should.”

“There has been no email, no mass memo sent out,” Hastie told The Montana Standard Tuesday afternoon. “I bet 75 percent of parents are unaware” of the incident.

McLean said he posted the statement on the website on Tuesday afternoon, and mailers containing the statement and description of the alleged offender were sent home with kids. He added that he had just learned of the incident on Monday.

Hastie said the man will likely go away if he knows people are looking for him.

“Help comes en masse,” she said. “Odds and probabilities are, he’s either going to get scared and leave or one of us is going to catch him.”

Reporter Piper Haugan: 496-5572, piper.haugan@mtstandard. com or Twitter.com/Piper_Haugan.

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. jsmith
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    jsmith - October 31, 2012 2:33 pm
    Kudos to the staff at Whitehall Schools for doing such an amazing job. What the press forgets to include in their reports is the vast number of adults on the playground and by the buses watching and protecting our kids. Due to the large number of adults and the fact that the details of this story keep changing leads one to doubt the credibility of the story.
  2. jsmith
    Report Abuse
    jsmith - October 31, 2012 2:21 pm
    Kudos to the Whitehall School District for doing such an amazing job handling this. As a parent I have seen a large number of adults outside during all duties. From the ammount of adults, and the number of times the story has changed, leads one to believe in the credibility of the incident.
  3. Lilith
    Report Abuse
    Lilith - October 31, 2012 7:22 am
    Once again I must step up and stick up for my son. He did try to tell a school official Friday immediatly following the event and was IGNORED! By late afternoon Friday the school was well aware of a student being approached. Of course no adults saw it happen or the school has to claim they were not aware. But a young highschool student also on my sons bus watched it happen and made a report also, even trying to explain to the bus driver what was going on and also was ignored. Parents after recieving visitors passes from the school are taking turns watching over our children since the school waited so long to do anything. People also need to know this is not an isolated event another student was approached monday morning and then again a different student was approached during an afternoon recess. All giving roughly the same description and pick up line that was heard from my son. As far as I know all events have been reported to the deputies. Please! Lets try to make sure a family doesnt have to go through the agony of loosing a child!
  4. hardrock07
    Report Abuse
    hardrock07 - October 31, 2012 4:24 am
    I'll be looking for that freak !!!!!!!!!!
    I got my Whitehall kids backs !!!!!

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