Today, a group of fourth-grade students from Lowell Elementary on Capitol Hill went on a field trip that involved walking to and from Cal Anderson Park, where they went ice skating. The students were accompanied by teachers and parents. As the group was returning from the field trip, at approximately 3 p.m., Lowell staff learned that one of the parents might be a criminal suspect wanted by police. A teacher at the school called 9-1-1.
When the students returned from the field trip, they were escorted inside the school and the Lowell Elementary principal placed the school on lockdown to ensure the safety of all Lowell students. The suspect did not enter the school. When police arrived, the suspect fled the scene.
Students were allowed to leave the school after being escorted onto buses, or if they were picked up by their parents, but the remaining students stayed at the school under lockdown until police determined the suspect was no longer in the area. At that point, after roughly 90 minutes, the lockdown on the school was lifted and students were allowed to leave.
All students are safe, and Principal Gregory King commended staff and family members for their quick response and calm actions.
The safety and security of our students and staff is a primary concern. Each Seattle school is expected to conduct a WATCH (Washington Access to Criminal History) check on all parent volunteers. It appears that there was a miscommunication in the building today. The parent was not cleared to chaperone.
We are conducting an investigation into how this parent was allowed to participate in the field trip.
According to KOMO-tv, the parent who spotted him works for the Department of Corrections. Scary:
Investigators believe the parent spotted Donald Vasser, who is considered armed and dangerous. The DOC issued an arrest warrant for Vasser on Nov. 28 when his community corrections officer found alcohol in his home -- a violation of his community supervision.
Vasser's criminal record includes nine prior felonies, eight of which are drug-related. He was released in February 2011 after serving five years for a drug conviction.
It is unclear what "not cleared to chaperone" meant. Did he go through the volunteer process and they found his multiple felonies? A worry for every school.