‘We are profoundly sorry …’
BY TOM BARRY
After more than 25 months of near silence, Littleton Public Schools is speaking out about an official report released this week on the 2013 Arapahoe High School shooting.
“It is impossible for us to express how deeply saddened and concerned we are that Karl Pierson fatally shot fellow student Claire Davis before ending his own life on Dec.13, 2013,” said Superintendent Brian Ewert, who was heading the neighboring Englewood Schools at the time of the shooting. “We mourn the loss of these students and we feel sorrow and compassion for their families.”
Ewert noted that safety and mental health issues are challenging for everyone involved, saying parents have the expectation that their children will be safe at school.
“Through our own examination of the facts, as well as those conducted by outside experts, we identified areas where LPS did not follow its own processes,” Ewert said. “… A threat assessment was conducted on Karl earlier that year. However, follow-up with Karl and his parents related to his behavior was incomplete.”
Ewert said in retrospect and with the benefit information unavailable at the time, the district now understands that warning signs were missed.
“We are profoundly sorry that this may have contributed to the loss of two students’ lives that day,” he said. “We are sorry for the trauma these events have caused Arapahoe students, staff and parents, as well as the LPS community as a whole. We have learned from this tragedy and we have improved our procedures.”
This was the first time that the district has publicly admitted to any failures or responsibility for inactions.
The findings were made public by virtue of an arbitration agreement between LPS and the Davis family, who agreed not to sue the district in exchange for legal depositions and discovery materials.
Ewert noted that national safety and mental health experts had broadly reviewed the district’s protocols and procedures after the shooting. LPS agreed to have the same experts conduct more in-depth reviews and make recommendations.
“We emphasize that these are independent reports,” Ewert said, noting they were to be presented at a special Board of Education meeting on Jan. 21.
Ewert highlighted LPS’s recently established mental health program with Littleton Adventist Hospital and touted a decade-long relationship with the Safe2Tell organization. LPS has also increased its district-wide budget for school-resource officers
Last year, a bill waiving the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act for school districts was passed into law, though a section that would have made the legislation retroactive was removed.
LPS said its previous policy of not communicating with the press and public was to avoid creating “controversy and [compromising] student safety and privacy.”
“We are proud of the LPS community, which has emerged from this tragedy stronger than ever,” Ewert said.
The LPS response can be found in its entirety at www.littleton
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