Superintendent Kilburn responds to questions about Jan. 29 lockdown

Dear Johnstown families,

Some of you have had questions and expressed concerns about decisions that were made during the Jan. 29 lockdown at Johnstown High School, as well as our school district’s safety procedures in general. Your questions and insights are valuable and appreciated.

First, I want to clarify that, in an emergency situation such as the one we experienced Tuesday, law enforcement assumes complete control when they arrive on the scene until they decide the emergency has passed. Our local police are well-trained to handle all kinds of emergencies, and while it is natural to wonder why certain decisions were made, it’s important that we respect their professionalism and trust that their decisions were made in the best interest of Johnstown students and staff.

Various rumors were circulating in our community about the lockdown, and I recognize that people want accurate and complete information. However, since there is an ongoing police investigation, we cannot provide any more information at this time. Although it’s not possible to address every rumor, we will continue to share the most complete and up-to-date information as it becomes available.

Finally, you may want to know precisely what the school district plans to do to protect your children in an emergency. Although details of district safety plans must remain confidential to preserve the security of our schools, I want to reassure you that our staff is well-trained and prepared to respond to a variety of scenarios. We tell our staff on a regular basis that, in many ways, they are our safety plan: They must be able to think on their feet about what they need to do to protect our students in any space at any given time.

Our students, parents and entire school community are also a critical part of our safety plan. Tuesday’s lockdown was initiated after a student brought rumors of a threat to the attention of the school principal. It’s an important reminder that “see something, say something” is an effective approach.

Some children might find reassurance in discussing with you, their parents and guardians, different scenarios and actions they might take in an emergency; for others, this kind of discussion might increase their anxiety. I encourage you to listen to your children and follow their lead to determine how you can best help them process Tuesday’s events.

Our school counselors and social workers remain available to help our students and families, and I will continue to provide updates as they become available.


Patricia Kilburn
Superintendent of Schools
Greater Johnstown School District