Harrison Central lockdown traumatic, lesson-teaching for families, officials

Thursday, the accidental touch of a button created a frightening situation for students, staff and parents alike.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 6:09 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - An accidental touch of a button created a frightening situation.

On Thursday, multiple law enforcement agencies were called to Harrison Central High School for a school lockdown.

Parents exchanging emotional, frightening texts - one after the other - trying to understand what was happening.

“It was just so traumatic,” said Drena Ozene, mother of two students at the school. “I’ve never experienced anything like this. I don’t wish it on anybody.”

Ozene was panicking and desperately trying to communicate with her two daughters.

“When she said, ‘I’m here, I love you.’ . . . I tried to keep communication going because I was like this was the last time, I was going to hear from her.”

Ozene said for this kind of situation, there is no such thing as overreaction.

“I feel like when it comes to something like this, it’s okay to overreact,” she said with a light laugh. “It’s okay to pull out all the bells and whistles. I want everybody doing a full sweep because just like people go to work every day, kids just want to come home.”

She adds that she is thankful for a lot of things.

“I know everybody doesn’t get everything right, but I’m so appreciative that everybody was able to walk out of that situation yesterday and be okay.”

Harrison County School Superintendent Mitchell King explained that the situation occurred when a school employee accidentally hit a lockdown warning on the phone menu used by administrative personnel.

“It was an accident on the part of the people in the office who didn’t realize that the menu was still up,” he said. “Because the menu sits on the desk, they were on the other side of the desk and they just reached over to punch a button to start the telephone call and when they did, it sent that message out.”

King said that the lockdown option on the phone menus, which every school in the district has, will be removed at most schools. He said some may keep the option, but extra training will be provided to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

On Friday, around 500 out of 1,400 students did not attend class.

For other students, the situation was frightening, but they felt safe to return.

“It was my first time in a situation like that,” said senior Jaylah Bell. “But I knew like there was a lot of police and everything out here, so I felt safe.”

Fellow senior Kaylah Clark agreed.

“The way that they handled it. Got here real fast. It felt nice just to know that we were being taken care of and not just nothing happening. Our SROs are really good at making sure that we feel safe all the time.”

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