Loveland High School students walk out of school in protest of district’s handling of shooting threat

Loveland High School students staged a walkout Monday morning in protest of the Thompson School District’s handling of a threat that Loveland police deemed noncredible last week, and to support their principal, Michael James, affectionately referred to as “MJ,” who was put on administrative leave Friday, following the incident.

The students were also organizing in support of teachers who left the building and warned students to do the same after learning of the threat, who the walkout’s organizer Alyson Pike said have been unfairly accused of abandoning students.

“These teachers put their jobs on the line to protect us,” Pike said in an address to the roughly 60 gathered students.

Pike specifically laid the blame for the incident, which eventually resulted in a canceled school day, at the feet of the Thompson School District.

“Today, we’re out here, not to protest our school, its admin, its teachers or its students,” Pike said. “Today we are out here to protest the district.”

The students presented a list of demands to the district, and threatened further walkouts and protests until they are met. The students demanded that the district disclose more information about threats to students and parents, that they be informed on the exact reasoning for James’ administrative leave, that he not be fired, and that the district “hold themselves accountable for the handling of the situation in a way that resulted in unnecessary chaos and stress,” according to Pike.

Staff members were notified in a morning meeting on Wednesday, March 29, of a tip that had been filed through the state of Colorado’s Safe2Tell system, an anonymous reporting service. The threat was investigated by the Loveland Police Department and was considered not to be credible.

After the meeting, as students began to arrive at school for the day, a handful of teachers began warning students to leave before exiting the school themselves.

The resulting chaos led the school district to cancel the remainder of the school day shortly after 10 a.m., citing a disruption to the school schedule.

James addressed students and staff the following morning in an announcement over the intercom, saying that the protocols in place were followed and that students and staff were never in danger, and said the incident was an opportunity for growth in the building.

“Yesterday was a learning experience for our entire team and I want to assure you that we are carefully evaluating our processes and protocols to help ensure that we continue to foster the positive and supportive learning environment that our families deserve,” James wrote in an email to parents following the incident.

Students at Monday morning’s protest supported James and argued that he not be fired.

“What we know is that MJ is kind,” Pike said. “He’s been part of our musicals, goes to our games, made efforts to know every single student by name, and made an even bigger effort to know us as humans.”

Pike said that the event would last throughout third period, which began at around 10:15 a.m., and students milled around the open area outside Loveland High School following her speech, before heading for home.

“I think it’s really cool, people speaking out about this serious topic,” said Maddy Brown, a freshman at LHS who attended the walkout after debating whether to participate. “I think it’s really brave. I like that a lot.”

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