D-51 employee raises a red flag about the way D-51 conducts lockdown drills compared to other school districts

A highly experienced School District 51 employee who came here from the front range with over 20 years experience in conducting lockdown drills in other school districts is raising red flags about the way D-51 conducts its lockdown drills, and the trauma it is causing students. The employee describes a heartbreaking experience during a lockdown drill with a room full of kindergarteners during the 2023-2024 school year and the lasting  effects it had on students. The employee has brought the problem up with school counselors, the D-51 School Board and Tim Leon, Director of Safety and Security for District 51, and even proposed different ways to conduct these drills that are used in other school districts that don’t traumatize students the way D-51’s drills do, and offered research by the National Association of School Psychologists on how to mitigate the negative psychological effects that lockdown drills have on young kids, but the employee’s urgings have been ignored at every turn.

Out of frustration, the employee wrote an essay about the unannounced lockdown drill experience and what it is doing to young children in D-51, and sent it to AnneLandmanBlog in hopes of drawing public attention to it. I am publishing it here so everyone can see what is happening to kids inside D-51 schools during these drills, how they are negatively affecting the district’s youngest, most vulnerable students, and why D-51’s lockdown drill policy needs so badly to be changed.

The writer’s name is withheld to prevent identification of the students mentioned in the essay:


It’s a sad commentary on our society that schools have to have lockdown drills to prepare for a potential mass shooting. Since the Columbine massacre in 1999, Colorado public schools have been conducting these drills, and it’s up to each district how those drills are conducted.On the Front Range, where actual school shootings have happened, the common practice is to have announced drills which entail a low-key approach meant to minimize the traumatic effects of such a drill. There, students and school staff are notified that the drill would be taking place, allowing them to properly prepare their students for what to expect and why.Students with special needs and limited English proficiency have someone with them to help them understand what is happening and to cope with the situation. Students are allowed to use the bathroom in advance, and to grab a book or something else that can occupy them while they’re waiting.Classes are cleared quickly and students are able to resume learning activities within the classroom once they are cleared, while other classrooms may still be waiting, which maximizes normalcy.Once cleared, the security officers and police congratulate the students on a job well done and remind them this is just a drill. They keep it very positive and light.As a result, these students go into drills calmly and the after-effects are minimal for most students. 

Let’s compare that approach to how lock-down drills are conducted in District 51.Two lock-down drills are required each year, and they are unannounced.Students and staff have no idea whether or not it’s a real threat or not.Students are not prepared, and as a result, there is a lot of anxiety with both children and adults.This is especially problematic for kids who don’t understand English, students with autism or other special needs, and kids who come from violent homes and/or have PTSD from traumas.These students are not prepared in advance or given a support person to help them through it. Teachers and schools are given “extra credit” for having a weapon such as a baseball bat or chair ready to use to attack the intruder.Students go into a dark room and have to remain completely silent until their class is cleared. If they have to use the restroom, they are not allowed to leave. Instead, they must use a bucket in the presence of their peers, with only a plastic shower curtain for privacy. Students with limited English language comprehension, those with special needs, and those with other special circumstances are not given any preparation, and they often don’t understand what is happening, which is terrifying when one considers the effects of seeing a teacher holding a baseball bat ready to bash in the face of whoever opens the door.There may be the intention of clearing classrooms of younger students, but the execution of that is not coordinated in advance so the very youngest children, 3-4 year olds in preschool have been known to have to wait in that dark room silently for an hour or more. Often, the officers will try to gain access to a classroom using “tricks” to see if the teacher or students will open the door for them.Once cleared that class has to stay in their safe place until the whole school has been cleared, so learning cannot resume in any meaningful way.The result of this is that kids are not learning the most important thing to do in a crisis/emergency; to stay calm. 

Educators know that kids learn best when their brains are not in panic mode. When the amygdalae in our brains are activated, which happens when we are faced with possible danger, all our brain-power goes to surviving with the fight/flight/freeze/fawn mode. We are unable to think from our prefrontal cortex, which is where we are able to problem solve and learn new information.With that in mind, this type of lockdown drill is the exact opposite of what kids need, which is to remain calm and able to act quickly and possibly problem solve.Unlike fire drills, where kids have been taught to remain calm, quiet and to follow directions from their teachers, lockdown drills are filled with anxiety-provoking stimuli.Kids are learning nothing about how to react in a real situation.Students can leave this situation with fresh trauma, especially those who are already vulnerable.

I am an educator in the district. I am keeping my identity anonymous to protect the identities of my students.I had a class of kindergartners with me during the first lockdown drill of 2023-24 school year. It was unannounced so these 5 year-olds who had never experienced a drill before had no idea what was happening.I quickly brought them to my safe place, a small room in which the only light was from a computer monitor. I tried to whisper a story about being brave, tried to occupy them and keep them quiet, but their anxiety was through the roof. A student with autism started to cry, loudly.No matter what I tried, I could not console or distract him. This got the other kids crying, and it wasn’t long before every single child was crying, some very loudly. If this was a real situation, we would surely have been targets. We were not hidden due to the noise of these young babies who were terrified.This anxiety resulted in many of them having to use the bathroom.I couldn’t let them leave the safe room, so they had to take turns peeing in a bucket. Imagine me, trying to hold up a plastic shower curtain to give them some privacy, with 18 kids crying loudly, wondering if someone is going to come in a shoot us all to death. It was the number one most stressful time of my entire life, and I have experienced a lot of stressful events. It took about 40 minutes to clear my class.Afterward, when I tried to talk to them to debrief the situation, they all expressed fear and had so many questions about safety.For many kids, school is their only safe place, and now, school was no longer safe either.This is heartbreaking on so many levels, and is so wrong.We are needlessly traumatizing children. 

Toddlers practicing a lockdown drill (Photo: Daily Telegraph)

After this event on October 19, 2023, I contacted the head of safety and security, Tim Leon.I sent him an email explaining my experience and all the reasons above for my concern with how lockdown drills are conducted.I never got a response.So I contacted every district leader that should have cared, including the Chief Operating Officer, Superintendent, and finally the School Board. I didn’t receive a single response from any of them, with the exception of the Director of Social Emotional Learning (Amy Frazier), who had asked the COO to reach out to me. I did tell him my concerns, as outlined in this essay.He claimed unannounced lockdown drills were required by the State, to which I corrected him. He said he’d look into it and get back to me. I never heard another word from him.I reached out to the Counseling Coordinator and other school counselors for support. I heard nothing back from any of them.I have talked to other educators who share my concerns but didn’t have the experience I do of seeing how things are done differently in other districts.But now that they are aware, they are also asking for change. 

I have done everything in my power to keep my concerns internal, to give my employer the opportunity to do what is right, and I have been largely ignored.This is an issue I feel so strongly about, that I am bringing it now to the public, in hopes that you will help me in pressuring the School Board to adopt safety procedures that include announced lockdown drills and support for kids with special circumstances.If you agree with me that this cannot be ignored and changes are needed to protect our children and school staff, please email the School Board at https://www.mesa.k12.co.us/apps/contactus/index.cfm .Thank you for reading this, for caring for the well-being of our children, and for your support and advocacy.

Yours truly,

A District 51 employee

Related resource:

Unannounced active shooter drills scaring students without making them safer, National Education Association, Feb. 25, 2020

Sweet Coloradough is coming to Grand Junction

Sweet Coloradough bakery and café announced April 13 on Facebook that they are starting this week to interview people to work in a new store at 1410 North Ave. in Grand Junction, the building currently occupied by Daylight Doughnuts. Their Facebook post says they pay their employees “$20/hour+.” If you want to apply for a job, the application is here.

Sweet Coloradough is a family-owned and operated business that creates “hand crafted” and “decadent” doughnuts. They say they have “One mission…. try to make the best thing a person has ever eaten.” All of their items are made from scratch. Until now, their other stores have been in Eagle, Glenwood Springs and Rifle. They previously had two other stores, in Snowmass and Carbondale, but sold them.

Janet Rowland says she’ll “fight for the truth” while having a history of being untruthful herself in the local media

Janet Rowland’s March 28 Instagram post touting her devotion to “the truth.”

County Commissioner Janet Rowland (R), in a campaign plug she posted March 28 on her VoteJanetRowland Instagram page, says she “will always fight for the truth, even when the media presents the facts in a way that distorts the truth.”

But even as Janet denigrates the local media as untruthful, we must remember an episode in 2007 when Janet deceived the public herself by using local media.

Making it worse is the fact that even after it was exposed, she’s never taken responsibility for it, or apologized for it.

Shortly after losing statewide election for lieutenant governor as Bob Beauprez’s running mate in 2006, while she was previously Mesa County Commissioner, Janet was a columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press, at the time a competing newspaper to the Daily Sentinel. She wrote several columns for the Free Press under her own name until one day a sharp reader spotted the fact that Janet had been lifting the text of her columns word for word from government pamphlets, and brought this to the attention of the Free Press’s editor.

Colorado’s abortion rights ballot measure surpasses its signature goal, putting it one step closer to being on the 2024 November Ballot

Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom announced that it has surpassed their campaign’s goal of collecting 185,000 signatures to put Ballot Initiative 89 on the November, 2024 ballot, putting Colorado voters are one step closer to seeing a constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot that will protect abortion from government interference. The announcement comes just a few days after the Arizona Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law banning abortion, a law that was enacted when Arizona was still a territory and long before American women had the right to vote.

The campaign needs 124,238 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, including 2% of the total registered electors in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts. As of now, the coalition has collected over 225,000 signatures of which 48,175 were collected by over a thousand volunteers, and has qualified in all 35 state senate districts.

The text of proposed Initiative 89 says:

“A change to the Colorado constitution recognizing the right to abortion, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting the state and local governments from denying, impeding, or discriminating against the exercise of that right, allowing abortion to be a covered service under health insurance plans for Colorado state and local government employees and enrollees in state and local governmental insurance programs.”

Jess Grennan, Campaign Director of Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom, said “The news of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban ultimately

Jess Grennan

exposed just how vulnerable every state is, and will remain, without passing legislation that constitutionally secures the right to abortion. Ballot measures like Proposition 89 are our first line of defense against government overreach and our best tool to protect the freedom to make personal, private healthcare decisions — a right that should never depend on the source of one’s health insurance or who is in office, because a right without access is a right in name only.”

Current law is discriminatory

Because of a 1984 constitutional measure that barely passed, public employees and people on public insurance in Colorado are barred from having their health insurance cover abortion care. By establishing abortion as a constitutional right, Ballot Initiative #89 would remove that discrimination, providing access to teachers, firefighters, and other state employees who cannot currently get coverage for abortion care through their insurance. Private employers in Colorado are required to cover abortion in their insurance plans.

“Recent events have made it even more critical that we in Colorado restore what the Dobbs decision took away from us and secure abortion rights in the Colorado Constitution,” said Cobalt President Karen Middleton, Co-Chair of Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom. “As a fundamental, shared value, Coloradans trust people and their doctors, not politicians, to make decisions about abortion. That value has been reinforced in 2024 with the overwhelming enthusiasm for our ballot measure, as demonstrated by thousands of volunteers in every corner of the state collecting signatures. And we firmly believe that this energy and enthusiasm will carry us through to winning in November.”

Karen Middleton

“Abortion is legal in Colorado, but still not accessible for all pregnant people who need these services. Abortion may be legal in Colorado, and that’s due to our leadership passing the Reproductive Health Equity Act in 2022 to codify a person’s fundamental right to make reproductive health-care decisions, but statutory protections do not mean we are any safer from government interference than Arizona is,” said Dusti Gurule, President and CEO of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and Campaign Co-Chair. “This is why our community is fighting to enshrine abortion rights in the Colorado state constitution, along with the more than 225,000 Coloradans who have signed on to support this measure. Crossing the signature threshold is a critical step forward in securing a future where abortion rights are protected, respected, and accessible for all Coloradans, regardless of which elected or appointed official is in power.”

Dusti Gurule


Colorado Republican legislators who oppose all gun safety legislation make the strongest case for why it is needed

Colorado Republican Rep. Don Wilson of Monument accidentally left a loaded Glock 9mm handgun in a restroom at the state Capitol last week.

In an apology on Twitter/X, Wilson claimed he “takes firearm safety very seriously,” which his behavior contradicts.

Wilson is the latest in a string of Colorado Republicans who have mishandled guns in and around the Capitol.

New billboard coming June 1

Thanks to a collaboration between MadDogPAC.com and Mesa County citizens who understand the danger that Republicans and Trump pose to freedom and American democracy in the November general election, as of June 1 the above billboard will be up on Highway 340 in Grand Junction, visible to people driving west onto the Redlands over the Broadway bridge, and it will be lit up all night. It will be there for two months and could  appear elsewhere around the valley after the initial two months if enough people donate to make it happen.

Former Overstock.com CEO says he paid one of Tina Peters’ attorneys $1 million for her criminal defense

Warning– video contains an expletive

In a video posted on rumble.com on April 3, 2024, Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock.com, says he paid Tina Peters’ former attorney, Douglas Richards, $1 million to defend her, but was disappointed in Richards’ defense strategy.

Peters fired Richards just as her criminal trial was finally set to start in February, winning her yet another lengthy delay in her trial. It is now scheduled to start on July 31, 2024, after two days of jury selection.

In seismic shift for the local GOP, Tim Foster endorses Janet Rowland’s opponent, J.J. Fletcher, for county commissioner

Endorsement posted on the “JJ Fletcher for Mesa County Commissioner” campaign website

In what amounts to a subtle but seismic shift in local politics, former Colorado Mesa University (CMU) President Tim Foster publicly endorsed Janet Rowland’s opponent, J.J. Fletcher, for Mesa County commissioner, formally ending his years-long support for Rowland.

Mesa County Commissioners ignoring safety concerns & quietly working to tweak land use code to advantage large scale solar development, citizens say

Commercial solar development on east Orchard Mesa (Photo: High Noon Solar)

On January 9, Mesa County Commissioners Janet Rowland, Cody Davis and Bobbie Daniel voted to put a moratorium on large-scale solar development in the County supposedly to take time to address the community’s growing concerns over these developments. Citizens are worried that the current county Land Development Code (LDC) contains no provisions protecting agricultural and irrigated land, wildlife, water sheds and view sheds from these developments, as well as no requirements for fire protection, buffers, setbacks or plans to decommission these installations that will assure solar plants that get destroyed by inclement weather or live out their expected life spans are cleaned up in a way that minimizes  environmental harm and expense to local taxpayers.

Tickets almost gone for Good Judy’s Easter Sunday Drag Brunch

You had better hurry and get your tickets if you want to enjoy Good Judy’s Easter Sunday 2024 “Bunny Business” Drag Brunch.

Good Judy’s is located at 103 N. 1st Street in downtown Grand Junction, on the northwest corner of First and Main. Good Judy’s just issued a “low ticket warning” as tickets for this event are going fast.