'We've got a right to know': parents' lockdown panic turns to anger

MORE INFORMATION: Ricky Packham picked his son Isaac up from school on Thursday morning after he heard all types of misinformation about an alleged threat to schoolchildren in Orange. Photo: STEVE GOSCH                             0808sgschool2

MORE INFORMATION: Ricky Packham picked his son Isaac up from school on Thursday morning after he heard all types of misinformation about an alleged threat to schoolchildren in Orange. Photo: STEVE GOSCH 0808sgschool2

ORANGE father Ricky Packham considered not sending his son to school on Friday after the “scary” ordeal his family, and hundreds of families across Orange, went through on Thursday. 

An ordeal that could have been avoided if police and schools had communicated with parents about an alleged threat made to Orange students by a man, he said. 

Mr Packham received a frantic phone call from a friend shortly after his son went to school at Calare Public School.

His friend told him schools in Orange had gone into lockdown and someone was threatening to harm children. 

“I called the school and the principal said we’re going into lockdown,” Mr Packham said. 

“I went up there straight away and took my boy home.”

“They were all in the hall but nobody told me, I was scared, I didn’t know where he was"

Around lunchtime police posted a Facebook status on the Canobolas Local Area Command page that said police were looking for the man and the post provided a description but it did not say what the man had allegedly threatened. 

That post was shared 96 times and commented on 152 times. 

Mr Packham said had parents been informed of the potential danger, they could have made an educated decision whether to keep their children home.

“They knew about this the day before and they didn’t say anything,” he said. 

“We’ve got a right to know.”

Police found the man who had allegedly made the threats by yesterday morning and he was sent for a mental health assessment. 

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An Orange mother whose son goes to Orange Public School said she kept her son home yesterday because of his disability. She said he didn’t cope well with the stress imposed on him from the lockdown on Thursday.

“They knew about it on Wednesday, they practised lockdown on Wednesday... we should have been given at least a general idea,” she said. 

The mother, who declined to be named, said the school responded appropriately in terms of the lockdown but she was upset she had to spend 15 minutes looking for her child when she arrived to pick him up from school. 

“They were all in the hall but nobody told me, I was scared, I didn’t know where he was,” she said. 

Both parents said the schools should have sent out a group SMS or a group email to parents as soon as they knew about the potential danger. 

The Department of Education and Communities declined to comment. 

nicole.kuter@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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