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Lawmakers discuss Arapahoe HS shooting report

Posted: 12:18 PM, Jan 22, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-22 20:50:55-05

State lawmakers discussed the findings of the Arapahoe High School shooting report during a committee hearing on Friday, which found Littleton Public Schools officials missed warnings signs that might have prevented the 2013 shooting.

In a joint press release, lawmakers said the report includes numerous observations and recommendations legislators and school administrators can use to bolster public school safety in Colorado.

Senior Karl Pierson shot and killed fellow student Claire Davis on Dec. 13, 2013, and then killed himself.

The report's authors and Claire's father, Michael Davis, testified at Friday's hearing. Davis called on school leaders and lawmakers to make meaningful changes based on the report's findings. 

"This process is no longer about our daughter Claire, nor is it about Karl Pierson, who was a teenager in crisis who we believe would have made very different choices if a helping hand had reached out from a system that was designed to not miss the opportunities to help him," said Davis. 

The University of Colorado Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence and the University of Northern Colorado's Department of Criminal Justice wrote the report. It was commissioned by the Arapahoe High School Community Fund Honoring Claire Davis, which is partly funded by The Denver Foundation.

The purpose was to understand the school’s threat and risk assessment procedures and responses.

"Great credit is due [to] Michael and Desiree Davis for honoring their daughter's memory by continuing to engage on the school safety issue, entering into an arbitration process that led to the release of this incredibly important report," said Majority Leader Mark Scheffel, R-Parker. "The facts and recommendations it contains will benefit all Coloradans, as we continue efforts to make public schools safer places to learn, teach and work."

The report’s findings revealed three major failures within AHS and Littleton Public Schools in the months and years leading up to the shooting:

  1.  a failure of information sharing
  2.  a failure of threat assessment
  3.  a failure of systems thinking

According to the report, there were "many missed opportunities" to share information about the gunman's "concerning behaviors" and to intervene with the gunman before the shooting.

Davis said the report also showed the crucial role schools now play in identifying troubled kids. 

"All school districts, not just Littleton Public schools, must be held accountable for carrying out this responsibility," he said. 

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