JOHNSTOWN, Colo. — Roosevelt High School was closed Tuesday after the school was evacuated due to a Safe2Tell report, a Facebook post by the Weld RE-J School District says.
"I think it is a circus," said parent Rebecca Clark.
According to the post, the Weld County Sheriff Department and the Johnstown Police Department ordered the evacuation just after 9 a.m. based on information in a tip sent to Safe2Tell, an anonymous reporting tool run by the Colorado Office of the Attorney General.
A release from the Johnstown Police Department says that officers were already on-scene at the high school to supervise a planned student walk-out.
"They don't want us walking out and that's why they did that. They put the lockout on," said senior Zavier Botterilo.
Hundreds of students protested the suspension of gym teacher Noland Eastin after allegations that he mistreated a student.
"He was the face of Roosevelt. He's probably the best teacher there. He cares about every single person doing this for him," Botterilo said.
While Johnstown police were at the school, the department received an anonymous tip that mentioned a threat toward students and a bomb at the high school in conjunction with the walk-out, the release says.
Roosevelt High School and Letford Elementary School, which are located nearby, were both initially placed on Emergency Lockout Status. Johnston police said they eventually made the decision to evacuate the school so they could have explosive-trained K9s search the building.
After the lockout and before the official evacuation, many students went ahead with the planned walk-out, marching 5 miles to the district offices.
"We're going to make our voices heard because our teachers can't speak on their own without being afraid to lose their jobs," said junior Vanitee Rael.
A letter sent to parents of students at Roosevelt High School from Leslie Arnold, the superintendent of Schools for Weld RE-5J, referenced an incident in a gym class involving a student who had been excused from participating in physical activity based on medical concerns.
The superintendent did want to do a formal interview, but Arnold said Eastin was placed on administrative leave for two days while the district investigated the allegations. Arnold said he admitted that he mistreated a student and agreed to be re-assigned as a social studies teacher starting in January.
Students claim during the protest that so far this year, nine teachers have been suspended for various reasons. Arnold said that's not true. She said one teacher was fired, another teacher quit, two other teachers are suspended pending criminal allegations.
The search of Roosevelt High School did not find any explosives. The incident is still under investigation.
"What was supposed to be these kids showing solidarity for a teacher and a coach that they love that our community absolutely adores and supports -- all of a sudden has turned into a lockout, a bomb threat, a haphazard evacuation," Clark said.