KSDK Channel 5: Did They Go Too Far?

Kirkwood Many people have heard by now about the “5 on your side” report about school security that led to a lock down of Kirkwood High School.  In case you haven’t, here’s a short recap: Channel 5 sent an investigative reporter to five area schools to test their security on Thursday.  Four of them passed, but Kirkwood High School failed.  The reporter entered an unlocked door, had to ask a teacher where the office was, and was told he could use the restroom unescorted without anyone questioning who he was or why he was there.  He left his number and when the school called concerned, they found from his voice mail that he was a reporter. They attempted to confirm this information but the station would not confirm it. When told the school would have to go on lock down if they could not get a confirmation, they still didn’t confirm it.  So, the school went on lockdown. Here’s the report that KSDK aired last night.

Many points here can be debated: why did it take the school an hour to go on lock down from when they began to be suspicious, among other things.  You can check out the full report on the KSDK website.

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Here’s where I have an issue:  The school failed as soon as he was able to pass a single classroom without being questioned. By the time they called the station, the school had failed their experiment on several different points. Why did they not just tell the school at that point what was going on?  Why did they allow it to get to the point that the school went on lock down frightening all those students?  The students had even less information than the administration; they didn’t know it was possibly a reporter when they were told to lock the doors, turn off the lights, and get out of sight. Sure, it makes a more sensational story. Maybe they wanted to see if the school would even go into lock down, but since the school had already failed, this step was unnecessary. It was not necessary to scare all of those kids to prove a point that was already proven.  Kirkwood failed, but shame on KSDK Channel 5.

**UPDATE** KSDK issued an apology on Sunday night



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Melissa Jensen

Melissa is a native of the Greater St. Louis region. She is addicted to anything Google, and cannot understand why motion activated paper towel dispensers never see her hands.

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  • Michelle

    If I was a parent at that school, I would be thanking Channel 5 for exposing some extremely poor security measures at my child’s school. The fact that this individual was able to enter the school and have no one question them…and then interact with multiple staff members and was never stopped is frightening. I can’t get into my child’s preschool without being buzzed in and then signing into a computer. And that’s at a preschool. I would expect much more from a high school. The reporter could have answered his phone…that is the only thing that I think could have been done differently. In that case though, the school should have gone on lockdown immediately…why did it take an hour? That makes no sense…the district spokesperson even seemed baffled by that during the interview.

    • RyanAlan

      I seriously doubt any parent is thanking them after being put through that for 40 minutes.

      • Michelle

        I would absolutely still be thanking them. I highly doubt these high schoolers were traumatized by sitting in their classroom or wherever they were for 40 minutes. I went to high school in Edwardsville which is a nice area in the 90’s…before Columbine and before other rampages and we were put on lockdown at least once a year for various items. I am not scarred for life because I saw police with guns walking around or on our roof. So, I disagree.

        • RyanAlan

          They weren’t just sitting in their classrooms. Doors were locked, lights were off that they were up against the wall worried they were going to get shot by some nutjob all because KSDK wanted ratings.

          Making parents question even more if their child is safe at school doesn’t do anyone any more good.

        • http://www.millsapartments.net/neighborhoods Jessica

          Michelle, while I am not a parent and I can see the right and wrong of both sides, this article from the RFT has quotes from students and parents they actually interviewed who were in fact extremely shaken up by the event. http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/dailyrft/2014/01/ksdk_kirkwood_lockdown.php?page=3

          The spoke about a student given scissors by their teacher and told to kill the person if it came to that. A freshman who spent 40 minutes believing she could die at any moment whose mother said she’s never seen her daughter so shaken up in her life. A teacher who also didn’t know what was going on barricading the door and preparing himself to fight a shooter. So while it may not have been terrifying for you in the 90s, it was clearly (and unnecessarily) terrifying for many students and teachers yesterday.

        • Melissa Jensen

          In your comment you mention that you went to Edwardsville before Columbine, so the paradigm by which you processed the lockdowns at your school would be very different from that of a student who has lived through the news reports of mass school shootings.

      • 1sidetrack2

        Dah, Your quick…Ryan!!

    • Melissa Jensen

      Michelle I agree with KSDK doing the report, my only issue is the point they let it get to. They knew way before the lockdown that security had failed the step that scared the kids wasn’t needed. You might be glad they went into the preschool, but if you preschooler came home after crying and being frightened for a news report you may not have been nearly as happy. It isn’t what they did it is how far they choose to take it. You may try to get through security at an airport with a razor knife to prove that TSA suck, but lets see what happens when you get to the other side and start waiving it around to show how long it takes to be taken down.

      • Michelle

        I still put it back on the school…why did it take an hour to put them on lockdown? And I haven’t watched the story above, but when I watched the news last night, they only tried to call the phone number the reporter gave…they didn’t even call the news station. That would have been my first phone call. Hindsight is 20/20. But, four other schools didn’t even let this person in the door. Had they followed their protocols, this wouldn’t have happened. And since I work on a university campus, we have plenty of plans in place for active shooters, etc. I would absolutely welcome the knowledge that our plans aren’t adequate.

  • RyanAlan

    What really upsets me is KSDK’s “holier than thou” response. They didn’t do this for anything other than ratings. If they really cared about public safety then they would have talked with someone from Kirkwood privately and not broadcast this on the news.

    Was there no one at KSDK smart enough to say “Hey maybe we should talk to someone in the police department before we do this?”

    KHS called the number right away as soon as they became suspicious. It said he was a KSDK reporter. Think of anywhere you go. If someone really wanted to cause harm, it wouldn’t be all that hard. You can’t live your life in fear of every little thing and “what-ifs”.

    So KSDK sends someone in to bait an innocent teacher and secretary. Everyone associated with the high school probably knows who those two are even with their faces blurred out. Would they have acted differently if this were a real threat? More than likely.

    The school was on lockdown for 40 minutes. A friend of a friend’s co-worker rushed out of his office as soon as his wife called him in a panic. What if he had gotten in an accident on the way? Would that have been worth it for KSDK’s ratings?

    • Melissa Jensen

      I agree, I would have been in a total panic if I had been called.

      • 1sidetrack2

        Nowadays this is not funny! :-( Jack Oesterle,Jr. Kirkwood,Mo.

  • Jennifer Timpe

    Shame on KSDK. This is irresponsible newsmaking propaganda. Should they check schools for safety and report on the results? Absolutely. Should they take it to the level of causing the school to go on lockdown?? Absolutely NOT. I am a parent of children in the Southwestern IL school district. Receiving lockdown calls from the school IS SCARY. KSDK owes kirkwood and all of it’s students an apology for taking this “investigation” which they turned into a publicity stunt TOO FAR. They should be forced to pay a fine. I used to like KSDK very well, but this has made my opinion of them fall. What happened to professional reporting? *sigh*

    • http://www.millsapartments.net/neighborhoods Jessica

      I agree Jennifer. I don’t have children, but I imagine I’d be upset if my child came home freaked out because of what happened there yesterday. The fact that Kirkwood failed and took an hour to call back is all newsworthy enough and would make them fix their errors. The refusal to confirm the journalist and allowing those children to endure 40 minutes of not knowing if there was a shooter on their campus is ludicrous. These news channels are just cheap these days.

    • 1sidetrack2

      I’m with you Ms. Timpe!! Jack Oesterle,Jr. Kirkwood,Missouri

  • Jennifer Timpe
  • http://mbrewergroup.com mbrewer

    No need to be an ass to prove a point.

    • 1sidetrack2

      This is the freedom of speech! Get over it!

  • kathleen

    I work in a high school. Going on lockdown is traumatizing for a lot of students AND adults, even when it turns out to be a false alarm. Anyone who has never been through it since the multitude of school shootings over the past several years, can’t speak to how it feels.

  • 1sidetrack2

    The Kirkwood School District was not on their game! If they had great security they would have stopped the reporter after he passed the first classroom!! The news channel KSDK 5 what were they trying to prove? I will boycott KSDK 5!! This is not professional people at their best! Just Wrong!! Jack Oesterle,Jr. :-(