Cincinnati Public School leaders say they'll have to take Monday's emergency drill as a bigger learning experience than they thought because some students thought the active shooter drill at Hughes High School was the real deal.
"Caller says there was an announcement there was an active shooter in the lunchroom,” a dispatcher says over radio traffic.
A shooter was never found, and never existed.
"That is a drill. Police confirming it is a drill,” that dispatcher said.
Students at Hughes High School were evacuated Monday, as part of an emergency drill.
"There was a bit of unintended excitement,” said Janet Walsh, a spokesperson for Cincinnati Public Schools.
The drill was known as a level 3 threat, suggesting an active situation on school grounds.
"They said that there was a man - he had a gun, and he was active in the cafeteria,” said student Donaisha Thompkins.
"I was just panicking. I didn't know what to do,” said Deasia Waddell Oats, another student.
School officials and police say the school's public address system alerted everyone about the drill. Some students say they were later told it was a drill.
"Somewhere in this process a couple of the students may not have got the message. They called our 911 communications section insisting that was some type of problem inside the school,” said Lt. Col. David Bailey with the Cincinnati Police Department.
That prompted a real emergency response.
“For future drills, we’re going to talk about the process – maybe enhance our level of communication with the students prior to. I guess the best thing is that this is the time to find out if you’ve got some bugs in the system. We’re working those out,” Bailey said.
In a letter from Hughes principal Kathy Wright to parents today, she acknowledges that a "small numbers of students were unclear it was a drill," adding that "this was just a drill, and that no student was ever in danger." Her entire letter is below.
"There will be more drills in the future. We'll get better at them hopefully. The drills are fundamentally designed to keep students safe,” Walsh said.
These drills, school officials say, are legally required.
"What can we do to make sure that we have taken into account the possibility for confusion, and get out in front of it,” Walsh told FOX19 NOW.