KGUN 9 On Your SideNewsLocal News


CAUGHT ON CAM: Breakdown of crisis procedure at TUSD school

Posted at 5:17 AM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 15:35:26-05

A tense scene at Sahuaro high school was caught on cellphone video.

Students and a teacher thought they could be facing a school shooting and discovered a breakdown in procedures. Now one student's parents want the school to be better prepared for a crisis.

The terrifying minutes were recorded on Jourdin Dwyer's cellphone in a classroom of about a dozen students. It began with the sound of a shattered window. 

"We all got frantic like we didn't know what it was it was just like a big crash," she said. "I froze, and I started shaking, and I couldn't breathe. I felt like something grasping onto my lung like I couldn't breathe."

Her teacher took immediate action.

"My teacher screamed out loud telling us get under the desk. Get under the desk and she ran right over to start pushing the call button" -- an intercom for teachers to contact the office when they need help. "She was frantically pushing the button and nobody was answering," she said.

Before Jourdin pushed the record button on her cell phone she called her parents "to tell them I love them. telling them explaining what was going on and that we were underneath our desk and we were not sure what was coming through the window. That it was glass being broken.  I just kind of like it flashed in my head like what if I'm not going home today. Like what if I'm not going to see my parents today."

Her father, Craig Dwyer, rushed to the school. The office, he said, had no idea what was going on. 

"Her seeing that there wasn't a system in place for something like this, she, like us, it needs to be fixed. Period."
Eight minutes passed before a school monitor entered the classroom. Jourdin and her friends had remained crouched under desks -- petrified -- as objects hit and shattered the classroom windows. Craig Dwyer said, 

"The fact that he wasn't even addressing -- talking to the kids -- he was just kind of -- oh it's just this." Rocks, he said.  The teacher, upset about the delay in a response, explains to the monitor that it could have been a situation much more serious. "Here's the thing. You don't know what that is," she said to the monitor.

Valerie Cavazos: "Do you think the school failed?"
Craig Dwyer: "For sure." 
Cavazos: "How did they fail?
Dwyer: "We're so far into these things happening that we need to be ready for them. We're obviously not."

Roberto Estrella is principal at Sahuaro HS. 

"There are some things that we learned from that incident that show clearly we need to do a better job," he said.

Estrella met with Jourdin after she wrote a letter to him the next day describing what she experienced in the classroom. Jourdin said the principal acknowledged that the breakdown should not have happened.

Estrella told KGUN9 that he's investigating the incident.

He said, "We have to be able to identify it as a school, address it, and fix it so it doesn't happen again."

Jourdin said, "I'm excited to see if they actually do make the changes."

The Dwyer family told us they are satisfied with the principal's response and concern. We'll continue to investigate and bring you updates.