The upper and lower campuses at Solvang Elementary School were temporarily placed under lockdown Friday morning following a report of an active shooter that was later determined to be a false alarm, according to authorities.
Just after 10 a.m. Friday, the school’s upper campus contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department to report an active shooter.
The report was later determined to be the result of a miscommunication between the school’s campuses, said Dr. Steven Seaford, superintendent for the school.
“We believed for a short period of time that we had an active shooter on campus,” Principal Pam Rennick wrote to parents via Parent Square Friday morning after the school was placed on lockdown. “It was a false alarm.”
A second update was sent within minutes that clarified that no students were in any danger and no weapons were on campus.
Friday afternoon, the school sent a third message to parents that offered some information about the “unfortunate false alarm and the inconvenience it created for all involved.”
“A visibly upset student left campus and walked up Laurel street; the student was followed by a teacher,” the message read. “A deputy pulled up to the student. Dr. Seaford approached the student. The student stopped walking. The deputy spoke to the student. Dr. Seaford spoke to the student. Nothing illegal took place, no arrest.”
The student was then escorted back to the staff lounge, where Dr. Seaford and sheriff’s deputies met with the student’s parents. The student was then sent home.
Dr. Seaford told the News-Press that staff reported an “eloper,” a term the district uses to inform staff of a student who leaves campus that was somehow misinterpreted as an “active shooter.”
After the first message was sent out, several parents came to the school to see their children. Most students remained at school, though there were some who were allowed to go home at their parent’s request, Dr. Seaford said.
“We take everything seriously,” Dr. Seaford wrote to parents. “While we have laser-like focus on developing your child’s social-emotional and academic development, we recognize that that is best accomplished in a safe and nurturing environment. We remain committed to providing such an environment.”
The upper campus of the school includes six- through eighth-grade students, with the lower campus including kindergarten through fifth-grade.
Those with questions or concerns about Friday’s incident, or who may have questions about the school’s safety procedures, are invited to attend an open meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at the school, 565 Atterdag Road.