CHICAGO — Parents who send their children to two separate schools that share the same building say they’re fed up with how school leaders handled a lockdown earlier in the week.

North Kenwood Oakland, also called NKO, affiliated with the University of Chicago and CPS’ Ariel Community Academy, both elementary schools went on lockdown Tuesday afternoon when a gun went off in the building.

Parents on both sides say they’re not only frustrated with how lockdown was handled but want to see preventative measures put in action.

“It was 2 o clock, its Tuesday, they send an email, look my heart is racing” Alisha Harris said. “They send an email (saying) ‘hey the school is on lockdown. Don’t come up here. Stay away from the campus until further notice.'”

NKO Charter School parent Alisha Harris said when she got that email from the school she admits she got worried and like many parents came up to the campus in the 1100 block of East 46th Street.

After that first email, Alisha received two more email updates that afternoon indicating the school was prioritizing student safety, but not specifying why the school was on lockdown.

However, she said parents started hearing that a gun went off in the building, but that wasn’t confirmed until later Tuesday night when NKO sent another email stating a firearm discharged at Ariel Community Academy, the CPS school NKO shares a building with.

Kenetra Collins, an Ariel parent, said she would have appreciated more robust communication from CPS.

“On my end, I actually did not receive any correspondence of any sort until about 3 p.m. as I was pulling up to the school,” Collins said. “I got an automated call from the school and then I checked my email later on and I got an email from the school about 6 in the evening.”

‘What I do like is that they reached out they communicated every time they had an update but what I would have liked to just know was my child safe,” Harris said.

As it relates to how NKO parents were informed about the incident, the charter school shared the statement below.

“NKO sent security alerts to families and staff in response to a difficult situation that occurred on Tuesday at Ariel Community School. Ensuring that our students and staff are safe has been our top priority. We have continued to work closely with Ariel, UCPD/CPD, and UCCS Safety and Security to provide additional safety support. UCCS affiliated counselors and social workers were available for staff and student support on Wednesday, May 17th, and will continue to be available for support as needed.

“With such incidents, our first step is always to address the situation and ensure that all members of our community are safe. We then prioritize confirming that we have accurate information before communicating with our community. While these steps can take time, we will always communicate with families and staff as quickly as permissible.

“Because Tuesday’s incident is still under investigation with Ariel and CPD, we are unable to share additional information at this time. We have encouraged families and staff to contact NKO leadership directly with any further questions.”

A spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools released the following statement.

“As a District, we take the safety and security of our students and staff seriously. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) strives to send out timely information to parents as quickly as possible when there are situations at their child’s school. CPS’ first priority is to always handle the situation at hand in order to protect the safety of all students and staff.

Any time there is an incident at our schools, our school leaders and teams follow our emergency processes and procedures in collaboration with the CPS Office of Safety and Security, which will in turn engage the Chicago Police Department when appropriate, to respond to the situation. Our priority during an emergency is to ensure that our students and staff are safe and then we work to communicate accurate information in a timely manner to families.

We will continue to work with the Ariel Elementary Community Academy community to ensure their concerns are heard about this incident, to promote a safe teaching and learning environment for our students and staff, and clear communication. 

On an ongoing basis, we continually review and refine our safety and communication protocols to ensure we are implementing proactive solutions to prevent future incidents.”