Students were released from the Illini Central Schools around 3:00 p.m. Wednesday after they had been on lockdown since around 11:00 a.m. According to the Mason City police chief Mike Schoo, multiple students told school officials that a gun may have been inside the building. Every student was patted down to check for weapons, and every classroom was searched.
But parents say they weren't notified until around 3 p.m., nearly four hours after the threat was received.
"I found out through facebook. A step brother of mine actually found out before I did," said parent Travis Skelton.
"I don't even know how many parents are probably very upset that they don't know nothing," said parent Amber Jibben.
"They just had a huge group of parents in total chaos and not knowing anything going on," said Vanessa Russel, a third grade parent.
According to one mother's cell phone records, she received a "sky alert" --automated messages sent to parents by the school in case of emergency-- at 3:02 p.m.
"We are calling to bring you up to date about the events that have unfolded at Illini Central today. At 11 o'clock, the school was put on lockdown," began the message.
But this parent wanted to know why she wasn't notified sooner.
According to schools superintendent Lori Harrison, officials followed school policy. In case of a lockdown, Harrison said the authorities decide when to notify parents.
"We followed our intruder drill plan, and we let the Illinois State Police tell us what to do. Once they got on the scene, they are in command of it, and they kinda' guide us to what decision we need to make," she said. "We told the parents as soon as the state police gave us the all clear."
Before parents are called, Harrison said authorities must check the building and every student for a threat. Then, they evacuate the building and check it again. Schoo said he understood parents' frustration, but the first priority is making sure the kids are safe.
"In an emergency situation like this you got to set it up. You got to get control of the situation. You gotta get a game plan going. You have things that you have to do before you start notifying parents."
He said "nobody got hurt" and that's his main concern.
According to Harrison, once the district evaluates what happened, policy changes could be made. However, she's not sure when or even if that will happen.
"We all worked the best we could together, and I think we did the best we could given the situation. No one anticipates this ever actually happening, but when it did, everyone stepped up and did the best they could," she said.
Schoo said classes will resume Thursday.